Under pressure farmers call for 'sharing of pain'
Pressure is mounting on co-ops to scrutinise all costs and bring in "cuts across the board", as farmer pressure heated up at the latest processor AGM.
There have been a series of vocal meetings around the country, and the latest saw farmers call for a "sharing of the pain" that they are experiencing in a fall-off in income with pay cuts demanded for management, board members and staff at the Arrabawn Co-op meeting in Co Tipperary.
Chief executive Conor Ryan admitted to the meeting that milk suppliers were "shocked" when they received their March milk cheques, with solids on the floor due to the poor weather.
He stressed the society was very conscious and sympathetic to the situation that many suppliers find themselves in.
"The next six to 12 months will be tough for the co-op. We will do all we can to ensure that farmers get the maximum support through this period," he said.
However, he warned the milk price has to "go down" and could hit 20c/l with the society taking a further 3c/l reduction and intervention for SMP returning 16-17c/l.
Mr Ryan pleaded with farmers to come in and let them know "what your situation is", after some of the vocal suppliers shouted out that they were "kicking" bills down the road and warned cashflow situations were reaching crisis point.
"The wages have gone up by 1pc and we have taken a reduction of 30pc - there has to be a better sharing of the pain or we won't be there," one farmer demanded. Another called for board members to forego remuneration, and fees to the society auditor to be reduced, and a request to see if there was any means by which the payment of the superlevy instalment for 2016 could be deferred.