Minister will continue to negotiate for soft(er) landing

Despite not getting agreement at last week’s council meeting the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said he will continue to negotiate for a readjustment of the butterfat coefficient.

He said: “Despite there being a blocking minority at this month’s Council, I along with a number of Member States who share our views on soft landing succeeded in having the issue put on the agenda for the July Council, the first under the Italian Presidency.

“In the meantime, we will be in contact with various countries in an attempt for an agreement which would bring about an adjustment to the fat co-efficient. While I will continue to try and achieve measures to ensure a soft landing in the final year of the quota regime, but in the meantime dairy farmers must operate within the quota regulations until they expire in 2015.”

The Minister stressed that he has been very active in seeking to secure further measures to ensure a soft landing for milk producers in the lead-up to milk quota abolition in 2015. He said: “I have discussed this matter extensively with other EU Agriculture Ministers and with the European Commission, and officials from my Department have raised this issue at EU level and with other Member States.”

For super levy purposes, butterfat causes an adjustment to milk supply – the greater the differential between average butterfat (current levels) and reference fat levels (base fat), the greater the adjustment to milk intake levels. The proposed solution is to reduce the positive butterfat co-efficient and increase the negative one to ensure fair distribution across MS. Technically, this can be changed under Commission competency at Management Committee level.

Commissioner Ciolos has said the Commission will not move on butterfat without majority support at Council, and unfortunately, there are enough countries opposed to any move on butterfat. At Council last Monday we tried again to get agreement on a compromise but there was no qualified majority in favour.

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