IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary has said the EU Commission today revealed the EU production reduction scheme would be underspent by around 20%.
He said, of 52,000 farmers who applied last September, only 44,000 will receive a payment for reducing their production and the reduction actually achieved, at 0.85m tonnes, is around 80% of the 1.06m tonnes targeted.
In Ireland, 3,500 of the 4,500 farmers who applied last September have applied for payment in January, and they stand to receive payments totalling €6.5m.
“Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must ensure Irish farmers who are eligible receive their payment as soon as possible this month. While milk prices have undoubtedly improved, the scheme was meant to both encourage lower output and help farmers with their cashflow stresses, which are still very real on most farms. Payment is therefore urgent,” Mr O’Leary said.
“It is clear that the EU €150m fund put forward for this scheme will not be fully utilised – with a possible €30m remaining unspent. We in IFA had anticipated that this may be the case, and there is a consensus among all EU farm organisations represented by COPA that the unspent amount should be retained in the dairy sector to support it through a still fragile recovery,” he said.
“I urge Minister Creed to make common cause with his EU counterparts urgently to ensure the unspent funds from the scheme are utilised for what they were originally intended – to support European dairy farmers at the end of a period of extremely low prices,” Sean O’Leary concluded.