Sunday 22 April 2018

45 more farmers quit Creamery

Niamh Keegan

Wexford Creamery continues to haemorrhage local milk suppliers to Strathroy Dairy Company in the North of Ireland, as another 45 local farmers refuse to sign up to the Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) milk supply contract.

In May, GII became the new owners of the Rocklands plant and some 37 members of Wexford Milk Producers (WMP) switched their milk supply to Strathroy Dairy at that time. Earlier another 68 farmers had put in their notice for an option to leave the local creamery by June 30. Of those 68 farmers, 45 WMP members have now left, bringing to 85 the number of Wexford farmers who refuse to sign the GII deal to date.

GII spokesman said the company regrets any farmer who chooses not to supply milk to the local creamery and that the door was open for anyone who has left to return.

'When GII bought Wexford Creamery we also bought the milk pool, so obviously GII will be insisting on a loyalty basis at Rocklands in relation to the up front payment of €6.3 million worth of shares to WMP shareholders,' he said.

Wexford Creamery was sold to Glanbia Ingredients for €20 million, howver the multi-national company only paid a monetary sum of €3.7 million and the rest was put into shares of €16.3 million.

Richard Rea of Martin and Rea Agricultural Consultants, which represents those WMP farmers who have broken away from the local creamery said Wexford dairy farmers were kept in the dark by the board of WMP over the GII purchase of the creamery. He said he was not surprised more farmers left on June 30th and that another 20 or 30 Wexford farmers could leave in October.

'The board of WMP said that the safest place for farmers to be was in GII because of their co-operative ethos, however in my view the co-operative ethos is that you pay for what you buy and not a promise of payment,' he said.

'The honourable thing for GII to do now is to pay the €16.3 million now, to all WMP shareholders and not maybe in ten years time,' he added.

According to the director of Strathroy Dairy, Rory Cunningham, farmers do not want to be tied into a milk supply contract for five years.

'Farmers want to keep their options open and don't want to be handcuffed into a deal with one company for years whether they are happy or not,' he said. Rory said Strathroy milk suppliers do not have to sign a contract at all.

IFA chairman John Fitzgerald sent good wishes to those farmers the WMP members who opted to leave the local Creamery and said it was their personal choice.

Gorey Guardian