IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary was in Brussels this week to attend the COPA Milk Group. This meeting preceded the EU Commission Civil Dialogue Group on milk, which reviewed, among other topics, EU market measures to deal with the major negative impact of the Russian ban on European dairy markets.
“In our discussions with colleague farm organisations from all EU Member States, we have clearly established a consensus as to the need for strong, decisive measures from the EU Commission to turn around market sentiment and prices damaged by the Russian ban on EU imports. We also had an absolute consensus on the need to fund those measures from non-CAP funds, in light of the fact that this is a geopolitical, not an agri-economic, crisis,” Mr O’Leary said.
“There is unanimous agreement that the intervention “safety net” levels need to be revalued to better reflect the evolution of production costs since the early 2000’s. Intervention at its current level is below all EU production costs and cannot therefore play any role in reversing the unsustainable milk prices being paid in most EU Member States. It was felt by all participants that an increased intervention buying-in price could very effectively and rapidly change market sentiment and help turn-around prices faster than just leaving it to global market forces,” he added.
“There is clear and strong support from all our European colleagues for a reopening of private storage for cheese, and the extension of all APS schemes, including the butter and SMP schemes, to match the one-year duration of the Russian ban on EU dairy exports,” he said.
“All COPA members representing farmers who will likely be hit by superlevy agreed that the double whammy of low prices and superlevy fines was deeply unfair to farmers as quotas come to their end, and could leave them with drastic cash flow problems. While this was not an issue for all, those farm organisations affected by it felt this very serious problem ought to be eased by either the removal of the butterfat adjustment, or an extended payment period for the final superlevy fine,” he said.
Consequently, IFA will continue to actively lobby, in conjunction with our fellow-farm organisations from other member states, our Ministers for Agriculture, our MEPs and especially our new Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to obtain additional market measures to turn prices around more rapidly, and some relief to superlevy to minimise the cash flow crisis on many of Europe’s dairy farms,” he concluded