Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

High Court intervenes in Dairygold stand-off

The High Court adjourned the case.
The High Court adjourned the case.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A former milk supplier to Dairygold staged a three day sit in at the boardroom of the dairy firm to highlight farmer demands for a full and immediate repayment of their shareholding in the co-op.

West Cork farmer Ned McCarthy along with around 60 former suppliers face expulsion from the co-op after they transferred their production to other creameries.

Mr McCarthy, who milks 50 cows on 120ac of mixed land outside Macroom, was seeking confirmation that the shares will be repaid immediately after he was invited to attend a meeting with the Dairygold Co-operative Society board in the firm's headquarters in Mitchelstown on Thursday.

"I suspected there could have been a standoff so I brought a sleeping bag, pillow and plenty of food," he said, adding his sons had been tasked with milking and looking after calving on the farm.

Mr McCarthy was served with a High Court injunction by Dairygold on Friday evening after requests from the firm that he end the sit-in.

He left the building at around 11.30pm on Saturday.

The High Court yesterday adjourned the case to allow Mr McCarthy put in an affidavit or for the parties to come to an agreement.

Mr McCarthy, who estimates he is owed €23,000 in shares and bonuses, said it would take less than €1m to repay all of the ex-suppliers the shares that they took out as members in the Dairygold co-op. He said most are owed around €15,000 to €20,000 with the shares valued at €1.

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A number of dairy farmers switched to other creameries including Boherbue Co-operative and Arrabawn in Tipperary in recent years as many were unhappy with a Dairygold milk supply agreement.

The Dairygold society wrote to ex-suppliers last year stating they could transfer their shares for loan notes, which were redeemable once they reached the age of 65.

However, the firm stated it offered to return Mr McCarthy's shareholding value in the society on a phased basis over five annual payments of 20pc of the shareholding value.

"Repayments will begin in the fifth year following the conclusion of society membership and concluding in year nine," it stated. The dairy firm said it has invited a small number of former milk suppliers to meetings with the Dairygold board to discuss their continuing membership.

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