Some frustrated and anxious Lakeland shareholders voiced concern at the Lakeland Dairies annual general meeting (AGM) last week.

Farmers asked Lakeland Dairies chair Niall Matthews and Lakeland management led by chief executive Michael Hanley to reconsider new proposed rules that would see the introduction of milk price penalties for peak milk.

The vulnerability of potential new entrants to Lakeland that are in line for a 4c/l penalty on all April, May and June milk supplies was also highlighted by many speakers from the floor.

The AGM was much longer than expected, continuing to almost 4.30pm.

Speakers acknowledged the performance and growth of the Lakeland business, but repeatedly highlighted the fact there was little or no consultation with shareholders or suppliers on the proposed new rules around creating lower milk prices for peak supply months.

There has been very little consultation on the peak milk penalties or alternatives for new entrants

Over 80 farmers attended the Lakeland AGM in the Kilmore Hotel in Cavan last Wednesday.

Meath dairy farmer Martin Heaney summed up the general tone and mood of the various speakers, suggesting the board needs to look at the proposed rules again and have a discussion with suppliers.

He said: “We have seen here today that there was consultation among Lakeland shareholders and suppliers for the rule changes and the special general meeting went ahead unhindered, to a large extent, but there has been very little consultation on the peak milk penalties or alternatives for new entrants.”

Good work

Milk suppliers and shareholders Mike Magan, Tom Clinton, GD Young and Ciaran McDonald, among others, all spoke from the floor recognising the good work in developing the Lakeland business to date, but highlighting various challenges with the proposed new Lakeland rules for milk payment. ICOS representatives were present at the meeting but didn’t comment on the matter.

The Lakeland chair and CEO didn’t commit to any changes on the day.

The special general meeting tabled for 1.30pm was done and dusted pretty quickly, allowing in new rules around membership etc.