The judicial review prompted by An Taisce in relation to Glanbia’s Belview processing plant is causing severe stress to affected dairy farmers.
IFA president Tim Cullinan has said that both Glanbia and the Government have a responsibility to milk suppliers who will be affected by Glanbia’s peak milk supply policy.
“A core principle of the Glanbia milk supply agreement/contract is that all the farmers’ milk will be purchased at the price set by the Glanbia Ireland board.
“Saying that a proportion of milk will not be purchased, or will be purchased at a penalised price, due to no fault of the farmer, is not consistent with the milk supply agreement,” he said.
The processing capacity issue must be dealt with on a voluntary basis in full co-operation with individual farmers.
In this regard, the proposals around the voluntary retirement scheme and the voluntary milk reduction scheme should be expanded and funded by Glanbia Ireland to try to address the problem.
“Glanbia must be prepared to accept reduced profits for the next three years to fund some of these voluntary measures,” he said.
IFA dairy chair Stephen Arthur said that up until recently, Glanbia was actively encouraging expansion and canvassing for new entrants.
“While farmers are rightly raging with An Taisce and frustrated with the planning process, it’s wrong that individual farmers are the ones forced to carry the can.
“To expect farmers to adjust their calving patterns and at such short notice is just unrealistic,” he said.
“We acknowledge the efforts Glanbia have made to address the concerns of farmers by making changes to their proposals.
“However, they must go further. No farmer can have their livelihood put at risk,” he said.
The IFA confirmed that Glanbia sought a meeting with the farm organisation in November 2020 to brief it on the judicial review of the Belview planning process being initiated by An Taisce.
“At that meeting, Glanbia were clear that they preferred to deal with the matter behind the scenes. [The] IFA respected that position,” the farm organisation said.
“At a meeting with [the] IFA this week, Glanbia revised this position and rightly called out An Taisce for their reprehensible actions.”
Cullinan said it was “outrageous” that An Taisce, which he described as “an unelected elite”, would seek to damage the livelihoods of farm families through what he called “spurious planning objections”.
“The Government must change our planning process to tighten up the basis on which planning objections can be made, and to limit the number of appeal avenues open to people. The current system is doing untold damage and is a crank’s charter,” he said.