Kerry Group's decision to pay 1c/l including VAT on milk supplied to the co-op last year has received a guarded welcome from milk suppliers.
ICMSA dairy chairman Pat McCormack said that while the decision was positive, it still fell short of the commitment to pay a "leading milk price".
Mr McCormack also criticised Kerry Group's manner of paying the top-up as a 13th payment instead of through 12 monthly milk cheque payments, saying it would have been "better for all concerned if the payment had been made in the normal fashion during 2012."
"That would have meant that Kerry Group was seen to have met its commitments.
"That method of paying the leading milk price would probably have exerted a strong pull factor and ensured that other co-ops and processors followed them upwards on price and so would have benefited suppliers all over the country," maintained the ICMSA chairman.
However, a spokesman for Kerry insisted that 1c/l "more than discharged the commitment to pay a leading milk price on a like-for-like basis".
The spokesman said Kerry's intention was to reflect market conditions in farmer payments, but he added that while a so-called 13th payment was not planned for 2013 and onwards, "if there is an additional payment, it will be made as appropriate."
Kerry suppliers are calling for milk payments to be made via 12 monthly payments.
"It's disappointing that it took so long to bring this issue to a conclusion and farmers are anxious that Kerry will now pay the leading milk price month by month," said Kerry supplier John Egan from Co Limerick.
Kerry ICMSA chairman Noel Murphy added farmers wanted to see the phrase 'like-for-like basis' spelled out in the milk supply agreement, due to be distributed shortly.
Meanwhile, Tipperary co-op is currently drafting its own milk supply agreement, which is expected to require farmers to have shareholding equivalent to 3c/l or €3,000 in shares for every 100,000l of milk supplied to the co-op.