Admixture ruling is threat to contracts

17 October 1997

Admixture ruling is threat to contracts

ATTEMPTS by some merchants to get out of uneconomic contracts would have left eight malting barley producers in the south-east up to £200,000 out of pocket, according to the NFU.

But negotiations between the union and merchants to prevent some of the trade from counting skinned barley grains as admixture have proved successful.

And the trade organisation UKASTA has said that while no cases have been taken to arbitration, it is prepared to look at changing its grain contract for 1998 to clarify rules over admixture.

William White, NFU senior policy adviser, attacked the few merchants which had tried to find loopholes or amendments in contracts to bring down payments to barley producers.

"One producer who was contracted to be paid £145-150/t for 1350t of malting barley, giving him £195,000, was being threatened with a second contract at just £100/t, which would have left him with £135,000 – a loss of £60,000."

"And if one looks at all eight farmers, producing 5000t of malting barley at last Octobers contract price of £145/t, they would have made £750,000. If the merchants had had their way, up to £200,000 would have been taken away," he added.

Mr White said that until this year, malting barley producers had always considered admixture to mean mud or straw and not skinned grains. Richard Vidal, NFU legal adviser, said the union had monitored cases in the south-east and East Anglia where merchants had avoided their contractual obligations, but he said all had been resolved without the need to go to arbitration.

Jeremy Smith, UKASTA spokesman, said the trade organisation would be prepared to look at revising rules on quality considerations relating to admixture within its grains contract .n

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