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Ferris criticises culture of entitlement during milk price crisis for farmers

20 April, 2016 - by Martin Ferris TD

Reacting to news that Ornua’s top nine executives shared more than €9,000,000 in pay, bonuses and pension contributions over the past two years, Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has said it was hard to take in the middle of such a crisis for dairy farmers struggling to keep their heads above water.

The Kerry TD said:

“There is no one saying at all that anyone has done anything wrong, but I know that if I was fielding calls from the bank and selling my milk for less than it is taking me to produce it, I would be very angry at such a bonanza for the bosses of a dairy co-op.

“Ornua has suspended the levy on farmers which it charges for promoting Irish dairy produce abroad and they did this because of the crisis in which Irish dairy farmers are engulfed due to dropping prices.

“In those circumstances, paying directors’ fees of over half a million euro and €4,400,000 in executives’ remuneration seems excessive.

“We saw the consequences in the IFA when a culture of entitlement among the top brass created a rift between them and the people they were supposed to represent. I believe dairy farmers, who were encouraged by co-ops and by government to invest in the sector and to borrow to do it and who are now struggling to survive and make a living at all, will be as angry as I am to see these big salaries, bonuses and pension contributions, for the few, while the many watch their incomes shrink to crisis point.

“I see chief executive Kevin Lane assuring us that he is confident that the business will continue to deliver strong returns and growth, enhancing value for the farmers they represent.

“Well, Mr Lane, dairy farmers are not seeing any strong returns or enhanced value only struggle and stress to the point of despair. It would serve the Ornua executives better to engage with government about raising intervention prices than back slapping at increased profits within a sector where the small operator is in crisis.” 

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