An arbitration process which is understood to have ruled in favour of Kerry Co-op suppliers in a milk-price dispute with Kerry Group plc could see farmers receive significant top-up payments.
The row arose as Kerry’s commitment to pay a ‘leading milk price’ on a ‘like-for-like basis’ came into question in 2015.
Kerry Group offered a payment of 1.75c/l to resolve the dispute in 2017, but this was rejected by the milk suppliers, and an arbitration process ensued last year.
According to local farmers, the arbitrator ruled that the West Cork milk price must be included in any comparison.
Kerry Group had argued against this, stating that as Carbery Group processed milk on behalf of the four West Cork co-ops, it wasn’t a ‘like-for-like’ comparison.
The arbitration ruling also stated that both sides must now negotiate further.
A spokesperson for Kerry Group told the Farming Independent that the Plc needs time to review the findings of the document before it took any further steps.
While it is believed that the arbitration ruling is valid for the calendar year of 2015, some suppliers have questioned whether there will be implications for farmers for the years following 2015.
It remains to be seen whether farmers will benefit from the ruling in the long run.
Some Kerry suppliers believe the dispute will drag on for a number of years, with one supplier saying he is «not counting on getting any money from the ruling», while another said «the only winner from the dispute will be solicitors».