Protest ongoing at Kerry Group offices in Tralee

With additional reporting by Claire Mc Cormack.

A protest continued at the offices of Kerry Group in Tralee earlier today, with an estimated 60 farmers uniting at the gates throughout the march.

Speaking to AgriLand, Fergus McCarthy secretary of the east-Limerick advisory committee, who was present at the protest, said “more than 60 farmers took part in the demonstration” outside the front gates of the site earlier today, Tuesday, November 5.

It is understood that a 4X4 had been pulled up outside another entrance to the rear of the facility.

The action began last week and stems from a dispute between Kerry Group and Kerry Co-op over the former’s milk price since 2015. Milk suppliers are arguing that they are owed money under a contract with the group.

The protesters on the ground also claim that Kerry Group has not engaged with the co-op’s leading milk price committee – established to represent the co-op in this issue – since a finding by an arbitrator on September 6.

Speaking to AgriLand today, Frank Hayes, former director of corporate affairs for Kerry Group, disputed this, insisting that the company has been in “continuous communication” with the committee.

Hayes highlighted that a meeting has been set for November 14 between the group and the co-op’s committee.

According to Hayes, the arbitrator asked for an indication from both sides that they would continue to engage with each other. He added that Kerry Group gave that indication “straight away” and has been “involved all along” with the co-op.

Kerry Group has previously confirmed that it is conducting a review into its milk price for 2015 – which has so far indicated that there is “no adjustment required” to the 2015 price.

Hayes highlighted the complexity of the review, pointing to a number of factors that are being considered.

These include, Hayes said, comparisons with other processors who may have revenue streams aside from milk processing, which may include income from other activities, or subsidies.

“It’s not like for like…this is a very detailed piece of work,” he argued.