IFA President Eddie Downey today said that the failure by the members of the Irish Dairy Board to progress a plan to centralise the processing and packaging of Kerrygold butter in Ireland was an unacceptable let down of Irish dairy farmers, and must be revisited urgently.
“This project is a unique opportunity for the Irish dairy industry to show that farmer owned co-ops can collaborate to improve efficiency, product consistency and marketing and to bring the Irish Dairy Board activity closer to the core of the industry’s expansion plans. Irish dairy farmers are bitterly disappointed that the project, which involved a number of the IDB member co-operatives, appears to have floundered for the lack of willingness to examine all options,” Mr Downey said.
“Complacency and self-interest when milk prices are strong are the enemy of driving necessary consolidation and efficiency, and dairy farmers insist that co-op boards, including the Irish Dairy Board, show leadership in this regard,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary said: “This is a high profile project involving our most valuable national brand. Its apparent failure is sending very negative signals to Irish dairy farmers about the reality of their industry’s commitment to overcome self-interest and really co-operate in the interest of efficiency as quotas end. The Irish Dairy Board member co-ops concerned must recognise that the stakes are just too high, and farmers cannot afford a less than optimally efficient approach”.
Mr Downey urged all parties to put aside their disappointment and re-engage in further talks. “Where a project is developed should not matter more than its necessity and its cost efficiency. I urge the Irish Dairy Board, Glanbia and the other processors involved to get back around the table and thrash this out in the best interest of Ireland’s milk producers”, he concluded.