Dairy Forum to meet next week ahead of key EU crisis meeting

The Minister for Agriculture has reconvened the Dairy Forum for next week ahead of crunch EU talks on dairy market difficulties on March 14.

The Dairy Forum will meet next Wednesday as stakeholders will likely consider Ireland’s proposals to solve the dairy market crisis.

European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said there was broad agreement at the last Council meeting that the market situation is so difficult that it has to look at measures that can be taken at European and Member State level.

“Council also agreed that there needs to be consideration given to the development of new and innovative measures that can be used to address the current situation in addition to the measures which the Commission has already introduced.”

Member States had until February 25, 2016 to submit their ideas.

Commissioner Hogan said the Commission will evaluate those ideas and reflect on what more can be done to alleviate the pressure on our European farmers.

Farmer Demands

IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin today (Wednesday) said he would lead the IFA dairy delegation, with National Dairy Chair Sean O’Leary, when the Dairy Forum meets for only the second time.

Jer Bergin said the Forum, must prioritise the co-ordination of a short-term strategy involving all stakeholders to support farmers’ cash flow over the coming months, with a mix of national and EU measures.

He added the Forum should meet more regularly to help develop a sustainable long-term model for the Irish dairy sector in the context of highly changeable global economic, geopolitical, market and currency conditions.

IFA National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary said Irish farmers will soon be receiving their first milk cheque of the year, and it will be depressed by low constituents, while their feed expenditure will rise.

“At the Dairy Forum, the Minister must press co-ops, banks, Teagasc and other stakeholders to continue supporting farmers, providing budgeting assistance, flexible short term finance and practical advice on how to cut costs without harming the sustainability of herds and farms.

While at the EU Agriculture Council meeting, the IFA says Minister Coveney must insist on the priority delivery of measures that will make an immediate impact on cash flow.

“The EU must allow an exceptional extension on Superlevy repayments. Also, Minister Coveney must immediately press for the announcement of a fundamental review of the intervention system, including an extension in full price buy-in.

“We also need all penalties removed from the long term SMP APS, and the reallocation of unused national amounts for cheese APS must be speeded up.

“Finally the Commission must reduce obstacles on Member States, from State Aid Rules especially, to enable them to assist farmers with their challenged cash flow, including through innovative tax measures such as proposed by IFA,” O’Leary said.