Eu Agriculture Commissioner Hogan Must Prioritise Dairy Supports – O’leary

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary has welcomed EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to his new post. He said Commissioner Hogan must focus immediately on reviewing the dairy supports deployed thus far in response to the Russian ban, and bring forward additional measures to help turn around market sentiment before the new season starts and quotas end next spring.

“We have already contacted Commissioner Hogan to outline to him the type of measures we believe are required to make a real impact on market sentiment after the Russian ban precipitated faster falls in dairy commodity prices from August,” Mr O’Leary said.

“Commissioner Hogan must re-open the cheese APS scheme, and extend it to a full year to match the announced duration of the Russian ban. It is already clear that the butter APS scheme is helping stabilise EU butter markets, but this scheme and the SMP scheme must also be extended to avoid product coming out of it and onto the market place at the same time as quotas end,” he said.

“He also must announce immediately his intention to review the “safety net” intervention price levels, which no longer have any relationship with production costs, with a view to increasing buying in prices for both SMP and butter,” he added.

“He further must reactivate targeted export refunds, and fast track export licence administration, to help exporters locked out of Russia find alternative markets rapidly,” he said.

“Also, he must ensure that farmers are not made pay for the consequences of geopolitical decisions made by the EU. Farmers must not be left shoulder the weaker dairy prices, nor suffer deductions from their Single Farm Payment to pay for the new CAP Crisis Fund to be activated. The EU must provide non-CAP funds to deal with the fallout of this political crisis, and fully utilise the €409m worth of superlevy collected for 2013/14 and currently being transferred by Member States, for spending in the dairy sector only,” he said.

“Finally, many European dairy farmers will be facing record superlevy fines which make little sense to them as they gear up for the end of quotas in a few months’ time. Commissioner Hogan must do what his predecessor refused to do, and actively foster the required political support from Member States to achieve what limited relief is attainable, by removing the butterfat corrector,” he said.

Mr O’Leary concluded that he hoped to soon meet with the new EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to discuss these issues face to face.

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