Only 600t of a 20,000t offer from Boortmalt has been taken up by farmers, Tuesday night's IFA malting barley growers' meeting heard. The offer was made over the heads of the negotiating committee to growers last month. Farmers could secure up to 100% contract tonnage at €190/t on a first-come, first-served basis.
The small uptake would suggest growers are backing the committee in pursuing a full agreement before committing to deliver to Boortmalt.
"Take the seed, sow the crop, but don't sign any contract until we have a deal," said IFA grain chair Mark Browne.
While a no-deal scenario still is possible, Browne was optimistic: "The committee are not going to give in. We think we are being fair, we aren't asking for anything unreasonable."
The room seemed to be with him.
"We should continue to push for €200/t," said grower Willie Masterson, "but we won't tie the committee's hands".
"Our fathers and grandfathers made Boortmalt Ireland," said another. "Boortmalt have tried to undermine the committee."
A Boortmalt representative told last month’s Teagasc malting barley conference that 6,000t of the 20,000t offer made in February had been taken up by growers, but at last night's meeting in Enniscorthy it was alleged by committee member Seamus Duggan that 5,400t of this tonnage had been taken up by a merchant, who was in turn is offering it to farmers at €198/t. This price is achieved by bundling the 20% of contract that could be fixed at €230/t earlier in the year with the €190/t price.
Merchants buying and reselling contract tonnage is a new development, and one that could further remove growers from the ultimate users of Irish malting barley: distillers and brewers.
The Creil price was reported at €187/t as of Tuesday, up €8 in a week. The hope is that the Creil price base will prove more reactive and resilient than the MATIF wheat price that was previously used as a guide.
Colm Fingleton of the Irish Grain Growers group, which is not part of the talks between the IFA and Boortmalt, said the MATIF wheat price and the Creil malting barley price both "bear no significance whatsoever to Irish barley". "We're going round in circles," he added.