Farmers like to grumble about their co-ops; they always have and they always will.
Last week’s Glanbia milk price announcement brought some such grumbles to my ears. It wasn’t necessarily the price itself that was the cause of ire, more the complexity of the price structure.
Glanbia will say that its seasonality bonus is designed to encourage a flattening of the production curve, and the trading bonus is to encourage farmers to buy from the business they in part own.
It’s not just Glanbia. It and Dairygold were the first to adopt the Dairy Industry Ireland recommendation that milk prices be reported using a second set of metrics – the “EU standard” of 3.4% protein and 4.2% butterfat. Cynics say it’s all designed to confuse. Dairy Industry Ireland says it’s the opposite, to provide greater context and clarity.
Boortmalt suppliers tell me you would need a degree in accounting to understand the statements they send to growers.
The friction between the corporate mindset and the farmer mindset is inevitable. Many farmers still want a “spit on your hand and we’ll shake” approach to selling. Those days are long gone, farming is a business that requires sharp management.
That said, perhaps the people who design the payment systems of co-ops should spend time at a farmer’s kitchen table to get the other perspective.