Siobhán Walsh this week reports that the €12.50/t energy surcharge imposed by Boortmalt will cost farmers €1.35m.

It is imperative that farmers across all sectors unite to send a clear signal to the processors of all commodities that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.

As it stands, the risk carried by farmers in all sectors is already disproportionate to the returns being achieved.

The move by Boortmalt only elevates this by exposing the income of tillage farmers to risks further up the supply chain.

The energy surcharge and the fact that is was introduced as crops were being harvested and delivered sets a very dangerous precedent.

If farmers accept this type of behaviour and position themselves as the path of least resistance, processors and retailers will undoubtedly seek to pass increased costs down the supply chain on to farmers rather than seeking to have them recovered by the end consumer.

This time the issue relates to energy – in future, will farmers also be expected to de-risk the processing sector’s exposure to other costs such as labour?

Farmers need to show, not just Boortmalt, but the wider processing sector that such behaviour will not be tolerated.


The first step should be a review of the actions of Boortmalt within the context of Unfair Trading Practice (UTP) legislation which applies to the trading of grain between farmers and the processor – clause four within prohibits unilateral contract changes by the buyer.

In the case where a farmer has a complaint in relation to the contract, there is a process to make a formal complaint to the enforcement authority.