IFA President Eddie Downey and National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary were in Brussels this week to meet with members of Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan’s cabinet to discuss the IFA’s case for an increase in the dairy intervention safety net level, and the use of superlevy funds to support dairy farmers. They urged Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to work on achieving support from as many fellow Agriculture Council members as possible ahead of their early September meeting to deliver on both issues.
“We have made it very clear that, despite claims by Commissioner Hogan to the contrary, the majority of dairy farmers in Europe and in Ireland, are now producing milk for a price that does not allow them to break even. Growing unrest among French and German dairy farmers is clear evidence of this. The current downturn is lasting longer than anyone expected, and farmers cannot take any further milk price cuts when so many are already in serious loss making situations,” Mr Downey said.
“A significant cause of the current prolonged market slump is the now extended Russian embargo, which is a result of geopolitical sanctions made by the EU in the last year. Farmers should not be left to carry that burden, and it is essential that, in addition to continuing with the Private Storage Scheme, the EU Commission would offer additional supports to help turn markets around and help farmers cope until prices recover,” he said.
IFA National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary added: “The EU Commission must accept that first announcing, then carrying out an upward review of the intervention price levels would send a strong message to international dairy buyers that there is a limit to just how low product prices can fall, and encourage them to buy at more realistic prices again, thereby combating the negative sentiment maintained by GDT and speeding up the recovery in dairy commodity prices to sustainable levels,” he said.
“Also unanimously supported by COPA members and the European Parliament is our contention that the superlevy funds collected for 2014/15 must be used to support farmers. The EU Commission has countered that these funds were destined for the general EU Budget. However, the EU 2016 Estimates only factor in €441m to be included in the general EU Budget, and current estimates of the final total EU superlevy fine suggest that is only half of what will be collected, leaving the other half to be used to support dairy farmers,” he said.
“Commissioner Hogan must deliver on these issues, and Minister Coveney must lobby fellow EU Agriculture Ministers to secure the necessary support,” he concluded.