Failure of Eu Agri Council to Conclude on Butterfat Adjustment a Major Let Down for Irish Farmers

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary this week said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must put more pressure on Commissioner Ciolos to stop playing politics with the soft landing, and to take charge of this issue to bring it to a satisfactory resolution urgently. This follows failure by the EU Agriculture Council to come to any conclusion on the proposed butterfat adjustment, indeed any conclusion at all in their dairy discussions.

“The Council’s indecision and Commissioner Ciolos’ politicising of the issue are letting down farmers all over Europe, including Ireland. Minister Coveney must urgently secure the fast tracking of this issue to the very top of the Italian Presidency agenda if it cannot be dealt with any sooner,” Mr O’Leary said.

“IFA pressure has played a crucial part in obtaining a joint position in COPA-COGECA in favour of a butterfat corrector reduction, and the European farmers’ group joint position will have helped influence a large number of member state Governments,” he said.

“The well documented divergences of opinions among Member States on dairy policy have become even more deeply entrenched. A proposal from the Greek Presidency which could have seen EU and Irish farmers benefit from a reduction of the butterfat corrector in the calculation of superlevy for 2014/15 led to a stand-off between 10 Member States reasonably in support (Including Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Spain, Luxembourg, Poland and Latvia) and 11 opposing (France, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, UK, Portugal, Czech Republic plus a few more). After hours of discussions, the Agriculture Council could come to no agreement, leaving the Greek Presidency to announce that the incoming Italian Presidency would have to decide how to handle this dossier after 1st July. Commissioner Ciolos said he would take action if there was qualified majority support,” Mr O’Leary explained.

“As 2014 milk supplies forge ahead (+9% for January to April), Irish farmers have little time to plan for the looming superlevy fine and the impact it will have on cash flow going into 2015. Minister Coveney must intervene urgently with the Commissioner, and get him to take charge of bringing about the majority support for the butterfat amendment he says he will act upon,” he concluded.

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