Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Tillage farmers seek opt-out from IFA levies

There has been criticism of the delay in reaching a deal for malting barley contracts.
There has been criticism of the delay in reaching a deal for malting barley contracts.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Farmers are seeking an opt-out from IFA levies as part of their malting barley contracts with Boortmalt, and have also called for more action from the organisation's grain committee.

A meeting of the Irish Grain Growers Association (IGGA) heard strong criticisms of the delay in reaching a deal for malting barley with sowing now just weeks away.

Tom Cushen, chair of the new group formerly known as the Irish Malt Growers Association, said they have agreed that members will not purchase any additional inputs from Boortmalt Ireland such as sprays for the coming season until they are prepared to meet and recognise them as a body.

The group said they were making the move due to a lack of action by the IFA. They also said a deal had been struck on the payment before Christmas.

However, it has since been changed with a suggestion by Boortmalt that 25pc of the contract tonnes would be paid at a surplus price to be set by Boortmalt after harvest.

The group, which has over 200 members, said the company has not met with them so far.

"We are people who weren't listened to by the other organisations. It is hard for one organisation to represent, beef, growers, dairy and the whole lot," said chair Tom Cushen.

Farmers attending the meeting in Athy, Co Kildare said they were not being kept up to date on the stage the negotiations were at between the IFA and Boortmalt over the contracts for 2016.

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Bobby Miller said they have to "make a stand" as they are on the verge of sowing the crop.

"It is just not good enough. The questions aren't being asked for us by the IFA," he said. "There has been no action from the IFA on it. They are sticking their heads in the sand."


Ahead of a meeting between the IFA committee and Boortmalt yesterday, grower Colm Fingleton, who is also on the IFA malting barley committee, said contracts must be established at an earlier stage to allow people "proper forward selling".

Mr Fingleton, who is also on the committee of the IGGA, said it was the "only commodity in which farmers are forced to pay a levy" as there is currently no opt-out clause.

Farmers have been told they can claim a return of the IFA's share of the 38c/t levy.

However, the meeting heard a number of farmers from Enniscorthy had filled out forms for return of their levies over the past two years but have never received them.

Mr Miller said forms were also filled out in the Athy area for 19 farmers in 2015 and no response has been received yet.

Farmers have been told that the 38c/t levy is partly spent on trials at UCD (12c/t) and the IFA's Ifarm (7c/t), which promotes farm-to-farm selling. However, there is no-farm-to farm selling on malting barley.

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