LacPatrick Co-op has agreed to pay a winter bonus to its Northern Ireland suppliers, after considerable unrest among its farmers for recent disruptions to payments.

The co-op’s decision was communicated to its suppliers this morning, Friday, November 30.

The bonus amounts to 2p/L for the month of November, as well as a further 1p/L for next month, with the November bonus being conditional on farmers continuing to supply milk in December.

The LacPatrick board agreed to pay the bonus on foot of an angry response from suppliers, following its original decision, in October, not to pay it to Northern Irish farmers, who were expecting to receive an extra 3p/L.

Suppliers were also aggrieved at the co-op’s decision to cut payments by 1 penny, to 26.5p/L (which coincided with with a 1 cent cut in the Republic), as well as for a delayed payment in October.

Approximately half of LacPatrick’s suppliers are not contracted to the co-op, and there are concerns that some of them may have chosen to send their produce elsewhere as a result of the payment disruption.

It is estimated that LacPatrick will lose between 12 and 15 million litres of milk to other processors on the back of the suppliers’ unhappiness.

It is believed the board chose to pay out the bonus in the hope it might stem the tide of farmers looking elsewhere to offload their milk.