Strathroy Dairy Director Ruairi Cunningham has admitted that farmer suppliers could, in theory, stop offering milk to the company at the end of March and, in some cases, leave a significant superlevy payment in their wake.

“The reality is that we are totally transparent in the way we go about our business,” he said.

“As a matter of principle we do not automatically deduct non-government related levies from milk cheques. And we have made it clear that farmers can walk away from Strathroy at any stage if they are not happy with the milk price on offer.

“But I don’t think this will happen. In fact, we have a number of additional suppliers coming on board at the beginning of April.

“Yes, we have a number of producers currently over quota. And we have been in contact with them regarding the options that are available regarding the payment of their superlevy obligations.”

Cunningham went on to point out that Strathroy is not holding suerlevy monies back from the February and March milk cheques.

“A number of farmer suppliers have asked us to hold monies for them in lieu of their superlevy commitments. But we are not holding back monies from affected producers on a blanket basis.

“This would be an extremely unfair approach, given that many of these farmers have not received a milk cheque for a number of months and they have a serious cash flow requirement within their businesses.”

Cunningham is calling for Europe to clarify the milk superlevy payment requirement for both farmers and processors without delay.

“It would be totally unfair for farmers to have the full three year repayment period that is currently on the table with Brussels still expecting processors to pay all the monies outstanding next September,” he said.

“The superlevy repayment plan must be agreed on a like-for-like basis.”

Commenting on the current superlevy payment debate, ICOS Dairy Policy Executive TJ Flanagan said that the draft regulations published by Brussels propose a like-for-like repayment schedule for both farmers and processors.