Processors using All-Ireland tickets as bait to lure farmers away from producer groups
IFA conference told collective approach 'doomed to fail' if members don't commit fully
Producer organisations (POs) are doomed to fail if farmers can be tempted to break ranks by the promise of All-Ireland tickets from processors, a leading agri solicitor has said.
Dublin-based solicitor Jim Staines told an IFA conference that the problem of farmers breaking ranks and not being fully committed is the main factor in POs disbanding.
"I was talking with someone last week and they described their experience of a producer organisation a few years ago. There was a small number of them, it was going really well, but there was one member of the group who wasn't that committed to it," explained Mr Staines.
"He had another off-farm income and he wasn't particularly pushed by the whole thing. The processor's arm was around him, gave him a quiet word and a ticket to the All-Ireland, and he walked away from the group and the group dissolved."
At present, there is a requirement for members to supply 75pc of their product through their PO, but Mr Staines pointed out that this isn't strictly enforced and, instead, an obligation to supply 100pc should be implemented to fully tie farmers in to the PO.
"You have to make it so attractive that somebody will supply up to 100pc of their product through the PO because everything else they get, in terms of knowledge transfer and expertise, is better.
"Farmers need to be tied in so tightly into POs and there should be an obligation that they cannot supply to anybody else, and if you do supply elsewhere, the group will penalise you.
"There's also the carrot and the stick approach that you make it so attractive and you become the group everyone wants to deal with," he said.