As EU Commissioner Phil Hogan promises to bring forward appropriate measures to deal with the current dairy downturn, IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary said now that he has finally acknowledged a crisis in dairy markets, Commissioner Hogan needs to prioritise measures that would make the fastest impact on cash-strapped dairy farmers.
“We have been lobbying Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and his senior officials to reconvene all industry stakeholders around the table of the Dairy Forum, and it is now more urgent than ever that this would happen ahead of the next EU Agriculture Council on 14th March. It is essential that our government would press the EU Commission to put forward measures that will help support farmers rapidly, while helping markets recover as quickly as possible,” Mr O’Leary said.
“To make an immediate impact on cash flow, the EU must allow an exceptional extension on superlevy repayments. Also, our government must immediately press for the announcement of a fundamental review of the intervention system, including an extension in full price buy-in. We also need all penalties removed from the long term SMP APS, and the reallocation of unused national amounts for cheese APS must be speeded up. Finally, the Commission must reduce obstacles on Member States, from State Aid Rules especially, to enable them to assist farmers with their challenged cash flow, including through innovative tax measures such as proposed by IFA,” he said.
“While some of our European fellow-farmers have already felt the pain very severely, Irish farmers will be receiving their first significant milk cheque within the next two weeks. Despite no fall in base milk prices since November, their cheque for February milk will be massively depressed by low constituents and lower volume, and their cash flow will be further challenged by higher feed expenditure,” he said.
“If the Commissioner means business, he has ways of impacting cash flow and markets rapidly through supports. However, he must also resist ill-thought out suggestions that, despite the openness of EU dairy markets to volatile global markets, EU production management might be brought back to make any kind of impact on international dairy commodity prices,” he concluded.