New barley deal will give 'top-up' to suppliers

Malting barley farmer protest recently at the price they are receiving for their crop.
Malting barley farmer protest recently at the price they are receiving for their crop.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A deal with a new malting barley buyer that will deliver a "top-up" to suppliers is being thrashed out, according to the Irish Grain Growers Association.

It follows a number of malting barley growers raising concerns over their future growing the 'premium' crop after a series of protests outside purchasers Boortmalt over prices and contract terms.

Clive Carter, secretary with the group, stressed the deal was at an early stage in the Stradbally, Co Laois area but it could provide a viable alternative purchaser.

"Malting barley will be put in store with the aim of being sold as malt barley. Farmers will get a top up. I don't have much information yet but hopefully there will be something in the near future," he told farmers gathered for their AGM in Carlow. "We are hoping to expand on this and push it into Wexford and other areas as we feel it is a positive step for everybody."

The Irish Whiskey Association said this week that 85,000t of malted and unmalted Irish barley was purchased by Irish whiskey distillers in 2016, with this figure set to grow significantly in coming years

Tim O'Donovan from Seedtech highlighted the "win-win" opportunities for farmers from beans.

It follows confirmation the protein subsidy would continue this year, with rates to be confirmed.

Mr O'Donovan predicted yields would most likely continue to increase as knowledge develops in line with the acreage size, and farmers become more used to growing the varieties.

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He pointed out there was also growing interest across Europe in GMO-free produce. "The overall strategy for Europe is to be 50pc sufficient in protein by 2050," he said. "For breeders and people to get to that level, there is a lot to go as at the moment Europe has only a fraction of self-sufficiency."

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