Row brewing between IFA and malting barley men

Two of the biggest combines in the country cutting for Walter Furlong at New Bawn near Enniscorthy in Wexford. The Claas 780 tracked combines operate 35ft headers and harvest 10ac per hour each. Pic. Roger Jones
Two of the biggest combines in the country cutting for Walter Furlong at New Bawn near Enniscorthy in Wexford. The Claas 780 tracked combines operate 35ft headers and harvest 10ac per hour each. Pic. Roger Jones
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

A group of Wexford malting barley growers are threatening to withhold IFA membership levies following a tense meeting in Bunclody last week where Boortmalt's latest price proposals for the 2015 crop were outlined.

Several IFA delegations, including president Eddie Downey and secretary general Pat Smith, have met with key Boortmalt personal in recent weeks to hammer out a deal.

However, the menu of options to fix and hedge prices against the French Matif grain index that was outlined to over 100 growers last Wednesday failed to placate those who are still aggrieved at the deal struck by their organisation last year.

A statement from the IFA claimed that the latest offer from Boortmalt, who buy 80pc of the 200,000t of malting barley produced here every year, would deliver €40/t above the current feed price.

Deduction

In addition, the €15 flat-rate deduction that was imposed on the final price that growers got last year has been re-worked so that it only kicks in when the Matif prices is above €181/t. This deduction is reduced by close to €2/t for every €5/t drop in the reference price below €181/t.

The malting barley chairman, Mark Browne, insisted that the vast majority of malting barley growers supported the deal, despite the concerns expressed at Wednesday's meeting in the Millrace Hotel.

Under the terms of the deal growers will be able to fix up to 20pc of their contracted tonnages at the going rate on the French milling wheat index, the Matif.

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If growing conditions prevent growers from meeting the quality specifications at harvest, farmers will not face any liability for not delivering this part of their contract.

In addition, growers will be able to sell forward another 54pc of their contracted tonnage any time over the next six months.

"Crucially, farmers can defer the hedge until after harvest date when prices are traditionally stronger," commented IFA grain secretary, Fintan Conway.

While he admitted that the volatility of grain markets would not suit farmers, he said that this arrangement maximised the pricing opportunities for farmers.

While Boortmalt were heavily criticised by some of it's 600 grower-base for paying low prices last year, investment by the company has helped re-build national output to 200,000t in recent years.

Management have also agreed that there will be no specification changes made during the growing season and that the latest a change can be made is by the previous December.

The malting company is also exploring new variety specific market outlets for high protein malting barley. The target protein for these will be 11.7-13.7pc, although no commitment is available yet for the 2015 season.

Indo Farming


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