Farm Ireland

Monday 23 April 2018

Fears of selling off the family silver are put aside for a worthy gamble

Ballot boxes are carried into the conference centre. Photo: Tony Gavin
Ballot boxes are carried into the conference centre. Photo: Tony Gavin
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

In the end, the offer of a €10,000 payout after two years of rollercoaster prices for dairy and grain was just too hard to resist.

Any concerns Glanbia Co-op's farmer shareholders may have had over selling off the 'family silverware' were cast aside as most considered the latest Glanbia deal worth the gamble.

There were few fears that it wouldn't pass, and the predictions were on the money as almost 2,400 farmers pushed the deal past the finishing post at Punchestown Event Centre.

Farmers had raised their fair share of concerns over issues on the run in such as the lower margins in the Dairy Ireland division of Glanbia and whether taking a slice of the Brexit-exposed cheddar cheese division was the best decision. Martina Neville, a dairy farmer with a trading vote with Glanbia, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, said she had mixed opinions before travelling to the venue but was swayed in favour on the day.

"You would be afraid that the co-op is losing its shareholding all the time. You are selling off one field and you're still going to be downing your assets. The pool of money you're creating, they say you are really only paying the farmers back with their own money. Glanbia is a progressive co-op and the plc is progressive as well."

Kevin Moloney, a dairy farmer from Knockanore, Co Waterford, was one of the thousands in favour. "The vast majority seemed to be in favour. It was probably a good thing that farmers will retain the majority shareholding and our future is in our own hands."

On the negatives, he said: "The danger is you wouldn't like to see the shareholding in the plc dropping down any further. Farmers can retain the shares or sell the shares, it is not like they are selling off the family silver and are getting nothing in return." Voting done, and with the pay day on the way, farmers beat a retreat out of Punchestown back to the dairy parlours as fast as their horsepower could carry them.

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Irish Independent