A Co Meath farmer has been elected the new chair of dairy giant Glanbia in a 'surprise' move during a tightly-fought boardroom contest.
The appointment of dairy farmer Henry Corbally (60) as chair of the Glanbia Co-op and also the Glanbia Plc board comes as industry figures warn they are facing into a "volatile" period for milk prices.
It's understood the vote for who was going to replace former chair Liam Herlihy, who had presided over a period of massive change within the multinational, was extremely tight.
Initially, the other vice-chair, Laois farmer Martin Keane (59), who had also thrown his hat in the ring for the €105,000 a year position, was seen as the frontrunner for the chairman post.
However, when it was put to the vote at the co-op board meeting yesterday, father-of-three Mr Corbally won over the majority of the 14 members and was then ratified as chair of the PLC.
It's understood Mr Corbally was viewed as good at managing relationships with farmers.
Glanbia yesterday confirmed the milk price was falling by a cent to 27.5c/l but would be topped up by the co-op by 3c/l.
Mr Corbally, who has served for 16 years on the board and runs a dairy business at Keenaghan, Co Meath, said dairy markets remain weak but the "strength of the Glanbia model" allows them to keep the price paid to farmers at 30.5c/l for milk during May.
It follows the Lakeland Dairies co-op bringing in a 1.5c/l cut in the milk price paid to farmers.
Irish Farmers' Association president Eddie Downey said it was a "very important" position in the sector in the light of the opportunities and challenges facing the sector in the post-quota era.