Miramichi Leader SAMANTHA MAGEE
Miramichi (08/22/2014) – The sale of a local dairy co-op to a Quebec company has been approved by its membership.
Almost 200 members of the Northumberland Dairy Co-operative met Thursday Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Beaverbrook Kin Centre and the majority voted in favour of the deal. said the dairy’s general manager, Jack Christie, who didn’t release exact numbers.
This was a major step forward in completing the transaction to sell the Miramichi-based dairy and its food-service assets to Agropur Cooperative Dairy Limited, which is located in Montreal.
Christie said the next few weeks will be focused on closing the deal.
“That won’t just happen overnight, there’s a lot of legal documents and it will take weeks with lawyers before it’s finalized,” he said, adding that he expects things will be finalized sometime in September.
“It’s more or less in their hands at this point to complete that transaction,” he said, referring to Agropur.
Christie said the overall mood at the Kin Centre where everyone had gathered to vote was generally positive and that even those who did not vote in favour of the sale were respectful.
“Everybody had an opportunity to speak and a number of them exercised that opportunity and it was a very respectful meeting and it was very well organized.”
He said moving forward there will be no immediate changes at the Miramichi plant and staffing would not be affected.
“We’re all working at our regular duties today,” Christie told the Miramichi Leader Friday morning Aug. 21. “The only change in the future is that most of the staff will be working for Agropur, other than our hardware store.”
Christie was referring to the Northumberland Timber Mart, located next door to the dairy plant on Lawlor Lane, which is not part of the deal.
The co-op has 272 members and Christie said Thursday’s night’s meeting saw a record turnout.
“Instead of close to 200, we usually see a third of that at meetings. Obviously the transaction saw a lot on interest and they wanted to make sure they had their vote and exercised their democratic rights as members of the co-operative.”
Northumberland’s roots in Miramichi date back more than 70 years, with the company growing over the decades to establish itself as a major player in the provincial dairy sector, employing roughly 250 workers and posting annual sales of $67 million while processing 27 million litres of milk per year which is supplied by 29 farms from all over New Brunswick.
Christie said in a previous interview with the Miramichi Leader that operating under the Agropur umbrella, a company that generates more than $3.8 billion in sales and distributes a number of well-known products all across Canada, will allow dairy farmers and local workers a far better chance the business remains competitive over the long-term.
“We look forward to joining up with Agropur, it’s a large international organization operating not only in Canada but in the United States. We are confidant in our future and our staff are being really positive looking at this opportunity over the last month or two in Miramichi and across the province,” said Christie on Friday Aug. 21.