DEAR SIR: When is a co-op not a co-op? When it’s Glanbia – one might be forgiven for thinking that all members would be treated equally.

I think that might have been what Horace Plunkett envisaged.

Over the years, things changed. Members were encouraged to invest through revolving funds, some left their money in while others took it out.

Surely the people who built up a bigger shareholding should see some benefit. They do through a higher dividend but when it comes to expansion, the bigger shareholders are hit the hardest, especially the dry shareholders and the retired ones.

I used to think there were two types of shareholders, milk suppliers and non-milk suppliers but, in reality, there is a third.

There are many new suppliers who only have a minimal investment in the co-op.

It can cost €4,000 to €5,000 per cow to set up a dairy farm but it costs virtually nothing to get your milk processed. All one needs is 1,000 shares at a cost of €5 per share – if you milk 500 cows that’s only €10 per cow. A 100-cow herd costs €50. So who pays for the stainless steel – the long-standing shareholders. The people who milk no cows pay for nearly half of it.

Personally, I would have no problem with investing if I thought I would get a return but it has been made abundantly clear that Glanbia Ireland will pay no dividend. We have also been told that the co-op will not subsidise milk price. With the same board running both companies, they will not be able to resist doing so.

I have always reluctantly supported these share sales in the past. Generally, if they sold down shares, they distributed approximately half to shareholders. This time they have added a reserve fund so the shareholders will only get between one-third and one-quarter. I can categorically state that I will not be supporting this measure.

It is now time to buy out the non-milk suppliers, especially from GI. By my calculations, their share of GI will be worth between €300m and €350m and they are being told that they will get no dividend. Is that the modern co-op ethos?

We are told the vote will be before Christmas. They say turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. In this case, the people most affected won’t even have a vote.