Pressure is mounting on Glanbia to row back on some aspects of its proposed rules on peak milk supply.
Farmers at Glanbia regional and council meetings are reacting with surprise, anger and disgust at the proposed limits on milk supplies during April, May and June from next year.
Recently expanded farms and new entrants to milk that have invested heavily are most frustrated as up to now they have heard nothing of processing capacity limitations. The biggest issue caused by the delays to the Belview cheese plant is the stress it had placed on Glanbia’s business and its farmer suppliers, according to Jim Bergin, chief executive of Glanbia Ireland.
“The real tragedy here would be the loss of this project to Ireland. If it goes ahead, the €150m Kilkenny cheese plant will be the largest investment in the history of Irish dairy, producing up to 50,000t of continental cheese in partnership with an organisation that has a huge range of customers and one of the largest slicing and packing operations in all of Europe,” said Bergin.
The Glanbia boss said the milk needed to supply the proposed Kilkenny cheese plant will be in place next year.
This week, Glanbia moved to dispel some farmer concerns. Its director of strategy Seán Molloy said an independent appeals body will be created to oversee the allocation of peak milk volumes from a special reserve pool for those who have been materially impacted by the new rules.
Almost 2,000 farmers logged on to watch the Irish Farmers Journal webinar on Tuesday and heard Glanbia chair John Murphy acknowledge “the pain, frustration and anger that is coming from some farmers”.
“My phone is hopping 24-7 and I’ve absolutely no problem to take the messages on the milk supply agreement back to the board later this week. I don’t want anybody forced into a position where they shouldn’t be. If other common sense tweaks are possible then we will. The board has spent the last three months doing their best to limit the impact of a bad situation,” he said.
The IFA met Glanbia on Wednesday for a second time since the proposed rules were announced.