Whiskey which is branded as Irish should be manufactured using Irish grain rather than imported ingredients, according to the South Cork Cereal Growers.
Jim O’Regan, a spokesman for the group, says that Irish whiskey distillers should follow the example of the Scottish distilleries and use only native ingredients.
The group points out that Ireland is missing out on a huge global sales opportunity by being unable to brand its whiskey as 100% home-produced using only natively-sourced ingredients.
“We have highlighted the need for the inclusion of a greater percentage of native grain in the manufacture of whiskey and the micro brewing industry,” said Mr O’Regan.
“The Scottish whisky industry alone is now valued at €5 billion, compared to Ireland’s total agriculture exports, which are currently valued at €11 billion.
“There is huge expansion taking place in Irish whiskey, with the announcement of a new distillery being opened every month. It is now seen as the jewel in the crown in Bord Bias exports.
"But we at the southern growers are concerned at the amount of imported maize that is going in to the manufacture of what is regarded as Irish whiskey. If it is branded as Irish whiskey then it should be manufactured from Irish ingredients.”
Mr O’Regan notes that the Scottish ‘whisky’ industry has moved away from using imported maize to now using 100% Scottish feed wheat which is a direct substitute for imported maize.
The South Cork growers are now calling for a similar approach by the Irish distilling industry.
The growers group also praised both Flahavans and Glanbia for the exclusive use of native oats in their porridge products. The group says this commitment to homegrown product is hugely appreciated by Irish tillage farmers.
The South Cork group has also welcomed the announcement of the TAMS II grants for tillage farmers.
Two years ago, this group of farmers also led the protests against the exclusion of tillage farmers from the original €400m in capital investment grants announced in April 2015.
In May 2015, the group started a campaign to include tillage farmers in the scheme. They have had several meetings with politicians of all parties and Independents, including meeting with Ministers Coveney and Creed.
They succeeded in having a supplementary application submitted to the EU to include grants for tillage farmers.
“The grant aid is most welcome for tillage farmers after having four years of poor prices,” said Jim O’Regan.
“Tillage farmers need to replace some basic machinery: The grants will cover items such as grain dryers, grain storage, sprayers, and a wide range of tillage machinery.
"There is some confusion as to whether fertiliser spreaders are included in the scheme.
"The group feels that these are an essential tool for tillage farmers to ensure fertilisers are being accurately applied and should be included in their entirety.
"A 60% grant is available for new entrants and a 40% grant for established tillage farmers.
"These grants will be most welcome for the tillage sector, as their exclusion from the first tranche in 2015 was seen by them as blatant discrimination.”
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