Close to 50pc of Dairygold suppliers opt out of farm body levies
Just 55pc of Dairygold's 4,500 milk and grain suppliers paid membership levies last year to any of the farm organisations.
The low level of support for the farm bodies was confirmed by Dairygold CEO, Jim Woulfe, at the co-op's recent annual general meeting.
Asked about farm organisation levies from the floor, Mr Woulfe replied that "approximately 55pc" of Dairygold's farmer suppliers mandated the co-op to make such payments.
Mr Woulfe also told the meeting that the collection of levies for farmer representative bodies was carried out free of charge.
The low percentage of Dairygold farmers paying levies, which surprised many in attendance, highlights the continuing funding challenge facing the farm organisations.
Earlier this year the IFA admitted that it had suffered a €1.4m hit in overall revenue. A 12pc reduction in levies accounted for a sizeable proportion of the income drop, with returns falling from €4.62m in 2015 to €4.1m last year, down €500,000.
While the move by the Larry Goodman-owned ABP Group to offer farmer the option to 'opt-in' to levies since last August has certainly hit the finances of both the IFA and ICMSA, a fall-off in dairy farmer support poses even greater concerns.
The post-quota growth in milk output, from around 5.5bn litres in 2014 to 7bn litres this year, offers the potential for a €700,000 windfall in additional levies for the farm organisations.