Christmas comes around every year, and so it seems, does a crisis in Kerry Co-op. Last week, chair Denis Carroll was unseated, with James Tangney selected by the board to lead them forward.

More correctly, Tangney was selected by the sorting hat, following a tied nine-nine vote (one board member was absent).

If this gives off vague connotations of Harry Potter, that might be appropriate, for just as there were four separate houses in Hogwarts School of Magic, there are a number of distinct factions within the co-op that Tangney now leads.

The first group are those who want a deal with Kerry Group. They believe the priority is to secure local control of dairy processing. This group is being advised by former Dairygold boss Jim Woulfe.

There are those who believe any deal cannot be agreed between Kerry Co-op and Kerry Group until the historical issue of the “leading milk price” payment is resolved.

These suppliers hold that €100m is owed by Kerry Group to suppliers, and that a lengthy arbitration process supported that view. Kerry Group continues to be of the opinion it owes no money to suppliers.

A third group’s main priority is the co-op share value. It views the co-op purely as an investment vehicle, and will oppose any measure that will dilute the value of their shareholding.

The newest faction within the co-op are commercial dairy farmers who have little faith in Kerry’s ability to pay a leading milk price into the future.

The Kerry Milk Suppliers Action group is setting up a producer organisation, with the express intention of getting the highest price for their milk.

The group is willing to move to another processor en masse when the current milk supply agreement (MSA) ends in April 2026 unless Kerry climbs the milk league.

With nitrates threatening milk volumes, particularly for Dairygold and Carbery, this group may have got its timing right.

Indeed Tirlán CEO Jim Bergin, who has a new processing plant coming on-stream next year, stated in last week’s interview in these pages that he would be willing to talk to such a group coming to the end of its existing MSA.

Many of this group haven’t much shareholding. They’re mostly not from Kerry, and have little “legacy loyalty” to Denis Brosnan and the founding fathers. That gives Kerry about two years to sort themselves out.

The new chair is originally from Kerry, so will understand the pull of loyalty to Kerry Group. However, he has farmed in Limerick for most of his adult life, in the heartland of the producer group movement.

James Tangney may be the right man to pull these disparate groups together, but he might need more wizardry and witchcraft than the entire faculty in Hogwarts to do so.