After disagreement emerged between Glanbia and the ICMSA over the future of the dairy sector, diverging views have also emerged between the plc and the IFA regarding tillage.

And the language used by IFA President Padraig Walshe in Kilkenny on Thursday last in describing the industry’s latest impasse could hardly have been starker.

“Glanbia’s belated price offer to growers today [Thursday, October 2nd) threatens the future of tillage farming in Ireland,” he said during a protest outside Glanbia’s Headquarters.

“Once again, Glanbia has put up a price when the market is at its lowest and leaves growers facing considerable losses.

“The company has secured a margin on their inputs, credit charges and grain business. At the same time, growers will not take a gamble on committing significant capital investment at such a poor price.”

On September 26th, against what the company described as “a background of difficult market conditions”, Glanbia announced its 2008 harvest prices for green grain. These were:

Spring Feed Barley: €123 per tonne = € 129.40

Winter Barley:

€130 per tonne = € 136.76

Feed Wheat: €127 per tonne = € 133.60

Equine contract oats: €138 per tonne = € 145.18

Feed oats: €115 per tonne = € 120.98

Malting Barley: €180 per tonne = € 189.36

All of the above prices include VAT set at 5.2 per cent.

“I appreciate how difficult this harvest has been and continues to be for growers,” said Glanbia Agribusiness CEO Colm Eustace.

“Overall there is an extra 53 million tonnes of grain in Europe after this year’s harvest, which is regrettably having a huge impact on the market.”

Glanbia also announced that it will again contract dry and store feed barley and feed wheat for growers who wish to sell their grain later, based on the dried feed grain markets.

In reaction to the price announcement, Padraig Walshe described both the green barley and green wheat offers as “derisory, adding insult to injury for hard pressed growers who have had to contend with one of the most difficult harvests in over 20 years”.

Mr Walshe added: “Glanbia grain suppliers collectively have spent close on €30 million on fertiliser, seed and chemicals in growing crops for Glanbia.

“However Glanbia’s price offer for grain delivered across the weighbridge amounts to around €27 million when moisture adjustments are taken into consideration, representing a deficit of €3million.

“With production costs running close to €140 per tonne growers will take a financial hit of up to €25 for every tonne produced while Glanbia will secure their margin.”

Also speaking in Kilkenny on Friday last, Colum McDonnell, the IFA’s National Grain Committee Chairman voiced a similar view to that aired by his President.

“Glanbia’s insatiable appetite for margin as a plc has been to the detriment of growers,” he said. “Their quoted price for grain over the last number of years has been at the bottom end of the market.

“As one of the main buyers of grain, their price effectively caps the price paid by the trade for green grain. Their stranglehold over the grain industry has driven down the price and undermined the viability of crop production.”

When contacted for a response to what the IFA was discussing outside its HQ, a Glanbia spokesperson said that the company had “no further comment” to make on the matter.