The group expects it will soon have the 250 signatures it needs to force Dairygold to host an emergency general meeting. Once it forwards this petition, it says the co-op will have 14 days to host the meeting.
“We are working as quickly as we can to put the motion together,” said Mid-Cork farmer Ned McCarthy, one of six farmers who signed a statement issued to the media yesterday. “Dairygold will be obliged to hold the meeting. If they don’t, we’ll hold it ourselves.
“We are just an ad hoc group of farmers. We know that a group has been negotiating with Dairygold, and we’re hoping to get their support too. The negotiations haven’t worked out and we need to take it a step further.”
This group is a separate entity to the Dairygold Concerned Farmers Action Group, which met with co-op executives last week in Mallow. This group said it were “appalled and shocked at the lack of respect shown by Dairygold to the genuine concerns of its members”.
The statement was also signed by Sean Keating, Mitchelstown; Michael McGrath, East Cork; David Thompson, Limerick; Eoin Bourke, Tipperary; and Tony O’Donovan, Dunmanway.
The group stated: “Dairygold are not willing to negotiate in any meaningful way. We feel this leaves us with no alternative but to call an EGM in an effort to get Dairygold to shelve the proposed milk supply agreement and capitalisation contract and do proper forecasting and costings. Their figures do not add up and may not allow many of its suppliers to have a secure income in to the future.
“To base all the expansion plan on one badly conducted and, as a result, inaccurate survey predicting 63.5% increase in milk [when at least two previous surveys showed 30%] is simply mind-blowing.”
In reply, Dairygold stated: “It is disappointing that there is rumour of a possible call for an EGM in light of the need by the society to progress its expansion to accommodate its members’ post quota milk supply plans. The society has not received notification of a request for an EGM, but if such notice was received a meeting would be held in accordance with the rules of the society.
“The purpose of the expansion strategy and the supporting Milk Supply Agreement is to deliver financial benefits to members, not to place additional burdens on them, and we are committed to ensuring that this is the case for all suppliers who wish to increase production.”
Dairygold said it is making excellent progress in relation to members’ adoption of the MSA, and is pleased with the positive response of those who have already engaged in its one-to-one consultation programme.
The co-op said almost two-thirds of milk suppliers have already signed up. In addition, one-to-one consultation meetings are continuing with individual farmers at the rate of up to 50 per day, and these will continue until the end of March. Under current forecasts, members are generally confirming their 2012 milk supply forecast which underpins Dairygold’s expansion plans.
The society is encouraging any member who might have a concern on any aspect of the milk supply agreement to attend a one-to-one consultation.
“All concerns and questions raised have been answered directly by Dairygold’s milk advisors and will continue to be addressed so as to assist members with regard to their future milk plans,” Dairygold stated.
“Where members have queries or concerns we can answer them and, in addition, a society spokesman said the clarification document issued on Jan 16 by the Society’s Secretary is part of the Milk Supply Agreement.”