Arrabawn Co-op will seek to secure new milk suppliers on a pro rata basis, should any existing members switch to another processor over the coming months, according to the organisation’s Chief Executive Conor Ryan.

He said he is aware fact that a small number of the co-ops farmer suppliers have been approached by Dairygold and Glanbia.

“Let me stress that not one Arrabawn member has formally signalled an intention to leave the co-op. But if this does happen, then we will find farmers to replace them. I do not envisage this being a problem and, what’s more, we won’t have to spread our net widely to find new producers.”

Ryan says he is confident that Arrabawn’s milk pool will not be diminished as a consequence of the current debacle.

“The opposite is, in fact, the case,” he said.

“We are in constant touch with our members and are fully aware of the plans put in place by farmers in our catchment area to expand milk output. In line with these projections, we have increased the capacity of our processing plant by 45%.”

Ryan denied that Arrabawn has sent solicitors letters to farmers indicating an intention to leave the co-op.

“Arrabawn does not operate on that basis. We have 950 members and I know most of them personally,” he said.

“Some members have expressed dissatisfaction at the level of credit made available to them through our store and feed mill network. Others have expressed dissatisfaction at the milk price we are paying.

“Arrabawn producers received a base price of 32.8c/L in their January milk cheques. I am more than happy to discuss all issues of concern with members on an individual basis.”

Turning to the superlevy issue, Ryan confirmed that a significant number of Arrabawn suppliers are happy to pay half the monies pending up front and the remainder over the ensuing 12 months.

“I have heard about the possible option of paying the superlevy monies back over three years. But I am not prepared to comment on this matter until I see the full detail of the proposals that are supposedly kicking around.”