The lack of representation from the Boortmalt area among the members present meant the Oireachtas committee’s interview of Boortmalt’s chief operating officer Peter Nallen only skirted around the edges of the issues that have enraged some of their growers.

In fairness, Nallen projected Boortmalt as focused, with clarity of purpose in relation to both their customer base and their growers. Boortmalt’s commitment to Irish malt growing has been openly questioned, but he revealed an annual spend of €1.5-2m on their premises, and a recognition of the quality of Irish malt barley and the grower base.

The increasingly stringent quality specification means that farmers are having difficulty in filling contracts, which are admittedly increasing in tonnage as Boortmalt expands.

Nallen’s explanation of every grower’s right to not accept the contract offered was plausible, but too often Boortmalt has not finalised the terms and conditions until farmers had their cropping plans for the spring completed and often ordered and even taken delivery of seed.

Similarly, “incentivising” growers by hiking up the price of seed and offering a phased rebate based on fulfilling agronomic and oversight objectives jars with farmers, who feel patronised.

The situation is far from all Boortmalt’s fault. Greencore’s stewardship of Ireland’s largest maltster was one of shrinkage of the company, and grower relations were destroyed by Greencore’s closure of the Irish sugar industry. Fault lines from then still exist, resulting in a Limerick dairy farmer now chairing the malt barley committee.