EU Commission to double dairy intervention ceiling

At the meeting of the Council of EU agriculture ministers, Simon Coveney said the volumes of dairy products allowed into intervention would double – one of the measures in Ireland’s submission.

EU agriculture ministers are meeting in Brussels this Monday to address the crisis on food commodity markets, mainly dairy and pigmeat.

Ireland’s submission to the Council is aimed at introducing new measures to tackle the current price volatility in dairy and pork markets.

The standout recommendation from Ireland to help alleviate the dairy crisis is to increase the skimmed milk powder (SMP) intervention ceiling to 200,000 tonnes – effectively doubling the quanitites allowed into the scheme from its current limit of 109,000 tonnes.

Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan acceded to this request this Monday. He told ministers that the Commission would “double the ceilings for SMP and butter to 218,000t and 100,000t, respectively”, citing “the support of a significant number of member states” for the measure.

Farming organisations have said today’s meeting must also lead to a higher intervention price to meeting of the dairy forum with stakeholders from across the dairy industry to prepare for the council meeting.

France calls for milk supply limitation

Meanwhile, France is calling for EU-wide restrictions on milk production among member states. The French proposals to the EU agriculture council include an incentivised scheme established to help cut EU milk production in 2016.

Speaking before the meeting in Brussels on Monday, Minister Coveney said that if a voluntary reduction scheme was part of the package of proposals put forward at today’s meeting, Ireland would not be availing of this measure.

“Ireland’s position on this is very clear,” he said. “We have made a policy decision for which we have prepared for the last five years in relation to the abolition of dairy quotas. We don’t want a reversal of that.”

He said that if a voluntary scheme was proposed, Ireland would not be availing of it.

The minister also stressed that this voluntary scheme should be funded not through EU money, but through each Member State that avails of the scheme.

“Member States can implement this scheme in their own countries if they wish and they will pay for it themselves,” Coveney said, stressing that supply controls “are not the appropriate response”.

He added that Ireland will be looking for more promotion of dairy products both within and outside the EU

A delegation of representatives from the various farm organisations is attending the meeting in Brussels to address the income crisis.

Ireland is also calling on the EU Commission to reopen the private storage aid scheme for pigmeat given the current downturn in pork prices.

As farm incomes across the EU crash, European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan is facing one of his biggest challenges since taking up the post.

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