Milk price a big issue in race for Kerry seats

MILK price will be an election issue in north Munster next month, when farmers in the former Golden Vale Co-op area vote three colleagues onto the board of Kerry Group.

At stake are three plum group directorships and a number of other positions on the board of Kerry Co-op, as the final phase of the takeover of Golden Vale by Kerry is completed.

The hottest contest will be fought for the three Kerry Group positions, which carry a highly remunerative package of directors' fees and expenses allowances for the successful candidates.

Directors' fees paid to 18 non-executive directors of Kerry Group plc in 2001 totalled 358,229, an increase of more than 33% on the fees paid in 2000.

For those who had served for the full year, fees ranged from 17,522 to 60,058.

And most of the directors of the Kerry Group plc are also members of the board of Kerry Co-op, for which members also receive a smaller payment the amount is unspecified by the society in addition to their expenses.

The payment package associated with these seats on both the plc and co-op is certain to add to the intensity of the contest to secure the positions. Most of the 13 outgoing farmer members of the board of directors of Golden Vale plc are expected to be setting their sights on the posts.

But they may get the cold shoulder now from farmer voters who accused them of not supporting suppliers' campaigns on milk price.

Many of the suppliers who manned picket lines and protested over milk price in recent years believe that the former Golden Vale directors failed to support them.

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