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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Whisky firms pay more for barley
A combine harvester and tractor
Farmers have been favouring wheat for animal feeds
The whisky industry is paying its highest prices for barley in 10 years, according to the National Farmers Union of Scotland.

Prices vary, but the highest is reported to be 200 per ton.

Cereals chairman John Picken said farmers were receiving a price for malting barley closer to what they had long been calling for.

Farmers favouring food crops such as wheat and poor weather had reduced the acreage for barley to a 30-year low.

About 80% of growers in Scotland are contracted and are paid a prearranged price.

However, prices of 115 up to 200 per ton are being paid. Previously, farmers received 70-90 per ton.

Various factors, including adverse weather conditions, are impacting on the world cereals market and one of the knock-on effects is higher malting barley prices
Whisky association spokesman

Mr Picken said the increase was welcomed.

He said: "For arable farmers it is a catch-up situation.

"The prices on offer show you what malters can pay when pushed."

Mr Picken said that for 10 years supply and demand had been in the whisky industry's favour, but this year had swung towards the growers.

He added: "From a bottle of whisky retailing at 15, only about 7.5p was relating to the barley grower. Now it is nearer 15 to 20p."

Mr Picken said this was an improvement, but still low.

The cereals chairman said malting barley could be sourced from elsewhere, however, the whisky industry needed Scottish grain in line with its quality assurance.

The Scotch Whisky Association said the industry supported Scottish farmers.

A spokesman said: "Various factors, including adverse weather conditions, are impacting on the world cereals market and one of the knock-on effects is higher malting barley prices.

"As the whisky industry grows worldwide, distillers will continue to support Scottish cereal growers whenever possible."


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