Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 19 September 2017

IFA abandons independent milk testing

Former Dairygold CEO Jerry Henchy
Former Dairygold CEO Jerry Henchy

Martin Ryan and Declan O'Brien

The IFA has abandoned its case for the introduction of independent milk testing.

Despite being one of the most controversial issues between dairy processors and farmers, IFA deputy president Eddie Downey told farmers that his organisation could see no purpose in further pursuing the case for greater reliability and transparency in milk test results.

"Most of the co-ops now have accredited labs for testing of milk and over the past year IFA has received no complaints from farmers on testing of milk," he told farmers at a meeting of Limerick IFA at Adare.

Former IFA dairy committee member, David Thompson, had earlier accused the farm body of double standards.

"Why is it stated on the IFA website as policy to have independent milk testing, while the chairman of the national liquid milk committee [Teddy Cashman] publicly votes against it at a Dairygold meeting? Are we in favour having independent testing or not?" he asked Mr Downey.

Mr Downey replied that the action taken by Teddy Cashman, lquid milk chairman, was correct because the IFA would not be pursuing the issue further at this time due to a lack of necessity.

Last week the issue of milk testing was raised in the High Court when the former Dairygold CEO, Jerry Henchy, claimed that the board of the Cork-based co-op opposed moves by him to introduce independent milk testing.

Mr Henchy said his decision to seek to introduce independent milk testing followed an IFA investigation in 2007 that found that farmers were being underpaid for milk.

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"I believed it was the right thing to do," he told the court.

Mr Henchy claimed the Dairygold board challenged his authority to make a decision on the outsourcing of milk testing and the initiative petered out over the following 12 months.

"The board did not accept I should have made the decision and it wanted a say in who the tester should be," Mr Henchy said.

The former CEO was giving evidence in his action against Dairygold over the termination of his employment in January 2009. Mr Henchy is seeking €8m for alleged breach of contract, reputational damage and defamation. Dairygold denies the claims.

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