Farm Ireland

Friday 24 November 2017

Support your co-op: O'Leary

Tim O'Leary has urged farmers not to pass their own Co-Op door.
Tim O'Leary has urged farmers not to pass their own Co-Op door.
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The IFA deputy president Tim O'Leary has called on farmers "not to pass their own co-op door" when making their purchasing decisions this spring.

In comments aimed squarely at the extensive network of farmer-run buyer groups that have become established throughout the country, Mr O'Leary said farmers should bear in mind the purpose of co-ops.

"Co-ops are designed to get all farmers working together for their mutual benefit. If there is a different price for lads at different sizes, it ends up fracturing the co-op structure," he said.

Mr O'Leary believes farmers have got to the stage where they take a lot of the things that co-ops offer for granted.

"A visit to Britain last year really reinforced for me the value of having a safe, secure purchaser for our milk. A lot of farmers here take that absolutely for granted.

"The fodder crisis was a reminder of what co-ops and marts can do for farmers and proof the last euro spent isn't always the most important one."

However, Cork farmer David Lonergan, who oversees input purchases for one of the oldest buying groups in Munster, said co-ops were not suffering at the hands of buying groups.

"You wouldn't believe how hard co-ops chase buying groups like ours for business," he said.

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"We're good business for the co-ops because they know that payment is guaranteed by a certain date and there's no chasing money.

"All our business is generally with co-ops anyway," Mr Lonergan claimed.

But Mr O'Leary maintained that the selective nature of buying groups meant the benefits were limited to the 'right' type of farmer.

"There isn't the same level of access to buying groups as to co-ops because the latter is there for every member," he said.

Instead, he wants to see farmers apply more pressure to their co-ops to have them run the way they want.

"It's up to farmers to exert the direct influence he has on his own co-op."

Irish Independent