Farm Ireland

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Farmers call for the price of Guinness pint to be cut by 10c

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Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Malting barley growers are calling for the price of a pint of Guiness to be reduced by 10c, as they say the malting barley they grow has fallen.

The Irish Grain Growers Group is holding a demonstration outside the main malting barley buyer, Boortmalt, tomorrow to highlight issues they say are putting Irish malting barley growers out of business.

"We are immediately calling on Diageo/Guinness to drop the price of the pint of Guinness by at least 10c  due to the fact that malting barley is so cheap to buy."

Malting barley farmers, they say, are being offered €155/t for this year's harvest - down from €250/t they received in 2012.

Group Chairman Bobby Miller said this year's price barely covers the cost of production.

"The economic cost of production at target yields is €282 and €244 for distilling (6.5t/ha) and brewing (7.5t/ha) malting barley respectively; compared with €205 for winter feed barley.

"The most recent harvest price of malting barley, €154.80, barely covers cost of production excluding land rental and labour; so malting barley growers are working for nothing and would be better off from an income prospective leasing out their land, particulars since this can be earned tax free."

According to the farmers, the deal negotiated by IFA does not compensate for the higher cost of production of distilling malting barley versus brewing as no additional premium for distilling malting barley is paid and is calling on IFA to step away from negotiating on behalf of growers.

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"It has led us to a situation where malting barley contracts are valueless and malting barley no longer a premium crop to grow. It’s a sad reflection when feed barley far out performs malting barley when it comes to a profit margin.

"IFA has agreed to unworkable specification changes and pandered to the requests of Boortmalt by sacking a democratically elected chairman of the malting committee and signing up to a Memorandum of Agreement including a code of conduct which no grower has sight of let alone agreed to."

The tillage farmers are also calling for the IFA levy to be removed from their Boortmalt contracts and says farming organisations must support a campaign for growers to have a minimum price of €200 for brewing spec malting barley and €220 for distilling spec malting barley for 2018.

"Boortmalt/Axereal must step up to the plate as a farmer owned Co-op and deal with farmer issues and stop sucking the life out of the Irish malting barley farmer since their arrival in to Ireland."

Malting barley growers, they say, only receive their contracts detailing their terms and conditions, after they have sowed their crops.

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