The Kerry Co-op survey of milk supplying members contains more than 50 questions divided into seven main sections: farm size, milk production plans, herd composition plans, nitrates and environment, investment, succession, and, finally, some questions about the co-op itself.

Fundamentally, the survey is actually only asking two questions – how much milk suppliers plan to produce in the coming years and whether they would value returning to a co-operative owned processor.

Specifically, those issues are addressed in question 8:

Kerry Co-op survey.

And question 53:

Kerry Co-op survey.

The document sent to suppliers also has two blank pages after the survey to allow those completing the survey to “add any additional comments”.

The results of this survey will be the main reference for the board of the co-op when making the decision on how to proceed with any move towards taking over the operations of Kerry Dairy Ireland.

'Critical juncture'

As Kerry Co-op chair Dennis Carroll said in his letter accompanying the survey: “We are at a critical juncture in our history and our next steps need to be fully informed and carefully planned and the survey results will be essential to ensuring that.”

The co-op - and ifac which developed the survey - are very keen to hear from as many members as possible.

As well as returning the survey by post, it can also be filled out online or even by calling a dedicated phoneline. Whichever method is used, the survey questions will be the exact same, even if there are small differences in format.

The closing date for submission of the survey is Wednesday 20 December.