Dairygold and farmer group set for meeting

Caitriona Murphy

Dairygold management and farmers opposed to new supply contracts with the co-op are to meet later this week in an effort to hammer out their differences.

A planned meeting between Dairygold management and the Concerned Dairygold Farmers Action Group, due to take place last Thursday night, was called off.

However, chairman of the milk suppliers' body, Eugene Sheehan, said they hoped to reschedule the meeting for later this week.

Mr Sheehan said talks between his group and Dairygold management were "at a delicate stage".

Among the concessions the group hopes to secure from Dairygold are changes to the payment structure for farmers who would struggle to meet the share-up requirements set out in the milk supply agreement, and changes to the legal wording of the contract.

Dairygold chairman Bertie O'Leary last week hinted at the possibility of granting some concessions, such as extending the payment period and using revolving fund contributions to buy shares.

More than 800 farmers attended a public meeting in Mallow recently called by the Concerned Dairygold Farmers Action Group to highlight opposition to the new contracts.

Meanwhile, ICOS has moved to assure farmers that milk contracts are in the farmers' best interests.

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"Such agreements give suppliers the assurance that their milk will be processed and the co-op the certainty that investment in new capacity will be optimally utilised," said ICOS chief executive Seamus O'Donohue.

"Legislation has always made it clear that the rule book of each society constitutes a written contract between the member and his society.

"What is perhaps new for many members is their awareness that they are already a party to a written contract," he added.

Dairygold suppliers have been streaming into one-to-one information sessions at a rate of up to 60 every day, in an effort to understand how signing up to the co-op's milk supply agreement will affect them.

With more than one third of farmers signed up in advance of the one-to-one meetings, it is expected that a large number of contracts will be signed in the next fortnight.

Indo Farming

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