IFA National Dairy Chairman Kevin Kiersey called on the Department of Agriculture to urgently deal with the cases of farmers whose herds were restricted due to animal disease and who ended up over quota for that reason and that reason alone. He said time was ticking by to “close the book” on the 2011/12 quota year and IFA had made concrete proposals how to deal with the issue, which he urged the Department to implement speedily.
I have lobbied the Department for the last few months on this, and requested that the Department and the Milk Quota Appeals Tribunal (MQAT) review and top up the temporary allocations to over-quota farmers whose herds have been restricted for long periods and who have a good track record of remaining within quota in past years. We have good reasons to believe there are relatively few farmers affected. However, some of those farmers are facing superlevy bills, after their initial MQAT allocation, of thousands of euro, which they were never in any position to mitigate due to being restricted. Any top up would help reduce an exposure they never had any control over,” Mr Kiersey said.
“My proposal was supported by all organisations in the Milk Quota Review Group a few weeks ago, and the Department agreed to hold back the 1.2m litres of National Reserve quota which remains available after all MQAT allocations for this specific purpose,” he said.
“It is urgent that this extra quota be distributed to the few farmers in this very difficult situation before the books are closed on the 2011/12 quota year,” he said.
In light of possible continued superlevy in future years, Mr Kiersey has further obtained agreement from the Department to carry out a comprehensive review of the rules and functioning of the Milk Quota Appeals Tribunal.
“The National Reserve is a very limited and dwindling resource – it is therefore important that it be targeted carefully in a superlevy year. The Department and the MQAT must apply greater scrutiny of application forms, to ensure that farmers who normally would remain reasonably within their quota, and whose excess milk production is solely due to their herd being restricted, get priority. However, all dairy farmers must remember that it is their responsibility, to avoid a fine, to make every effort to remain under quota whatever their situation,” he concluded.