There is considerable disquiet emerging around Kerry fixed milk price schemes. While Tirlán suppliers have put their fixed milk price issues into the public domain, there has been much less noise around Kerry suppliers.

However Limerick IFA chair Seán Lavery recently hosted a meeting to gauge the extent of the issue before Christmas, and was shocked by the number of farmers heavily invested in fixed milk price schemes.

“It’s a disgrace that Kerry have ignored the plight of a significant group of their suppliers,” said Lavery. Kerry is the only Irish dairy processor that is not a farmer-owned co-op.

Lavery highlighted that the IFA’s analysis suggested that Kerry’s direct top-up support only amounted to 0.8c/l, as opposed to Tirlán’s 4.5c/l and Dairygold’s 6c/l. Even North Cork,which has a lot of exposure to fixed milk and very limited resources, paid a top-up of over 2c/l.

Kerry did offer a scheme last year that offered a 5c/l top up for 2023 fixed milk, while committing a similar volume of milk for 2023, fixed at 45.5c/l.

While this looks an excellent support, it was only opened on a Friday and closed the following Monday afternoon. Farmers were advised of this by text, and received no further contact from their co-op.

Any farmer who missed that narrow window was excluded from the scheme, and a number of farmers are known to have missed out. Kerry has recently extended price top-ups to milk in fixed schemes, which would not normally happen.

December prices

Meanwhile, processors are setting December milk prices. Dairygold has maintained its price at 54.5c/L excluding VAT, and the board has approved the payment of a 1c/l milk bonus on all milk supplied by dairy farmers in 2022.

Kerry Group will pay farmers 53.08c/l, excluding VAT, for December milk, while Lakeland Dairies also held its price at 55.78c/l excluding VAT.