Farm Ireland

Sunday 15 July 2018

'They are 2.5c/l behind other co-ops and it all adds up' - LacPatrick suppliers on merger

Gabriel D’Arcy of LacPatrick Dairies. Picture: Paul McErlane
Gabriel D’Arcy of LacPatrick Dairies. Picture: Paul McErlane

Siobhán English

LacPatrick suppliers remain concerned and worried about the uncertainty surrounding the co-op, writes Siobhán English.

"I am currently locked up with TB, out of fodder and now this," commented Monaghan dairy farmer Seamus Brennan.

Mr Brennan, who milks a herd of 130 on his farm at Castleshane on the outskirts of Monaghan town, was among a small group of farmers who met with LacPatrick Dairies' CEO Gabriel D'Arcy early last week to highlight their concerns and express their disappointment at the perceived lack of communication from the co-op board on a potential merger deal.

Mr Brennan said that farmers had suffered enough financially during the hard winter and they deserve to be kept in the loop by the company itself with regards to its future.

"We have been told very little," he said. "Even after the meeting with them we were still none the wiser. We need to know where we stand.

"Some suppliers have been unhappy for the past few years so we called for a public meeting but as far as I know it has not yet been scheduled."

The suppliers' main concern is in relation to future payments and the drop in price for milk in March.

"They are now at least 2.5c/l behind most other co-ops," added Mr Brennan. "It all adds up. A neighbour of mine supplies to Lakeland and had €2,000 more in his cheque which is a notable difference when times are tough."

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Fellow Monaghan farmer, Robert Browne, milks a herd of 40 and has been supplying to the co-op for over 35 years.

He said he is in no hurry to leave, but he is aware of several farmers who have already approached Lakeland Dairies in the past fortnight.

"I would be happy to stay with them if they could match the competition." He pointed out they expect the prices for April and May to remain at 30.25c/l but "after that we do not know".

ICMSA deputy president, Lorcan McCabe said that farmers cannot be left in the lurch when it comes to their livelihoods. "They were assured at the meeting that they would be paid but it's not enough," he said.

"If there is a takeover or a merger they will need to have some control in the new venture."

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