Another EU dairy package ‘will not improve the critical situation facing farmers’

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has stressed that while a European dairy package could offer short-term support, it will not improve the critical situation facing local farmers.

The UFU has also said that it will not include the support measures needed to re-balance markets.

Earlier this week at the meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers, European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan said that he will propose another dairy support package on July 18 to combat the crisis in the industry.

Ministers hope the package can be financed from existing EU funds but it is understood that a number of Member States indicated that they are willing to use the Crisis Reserve should it be necessary.

Such a move would be politically sensitive in my EU countries as it would involve a reduction in the EU payments of all farmers.

In response to this announcement, UFU Deputy President, Ivor Ferguson, cautioned against false hopes amongst hard-pressed dairy farmers.

At a recent meeting of COPA-COGECA, the umbrella organisation for the main EU farm lobby groups and cooperatives, attended by the UFU, action to tackle the Russian import ban, a plan to boost national and export demand, new tools to tackle volatility and moves to reduce the impact of unfair trading practices were the main priorities.

It also wants to see new funding for dairy support, with member states deciding how this would be spent but recognised realistically that funding from Brussels would likely be modest, because of budget pressures in the CAP and wider EU budgets.

Ferguson added there was no support for a return to supply management controls although it was considered that any possible funding provided could be linked to supply reductions.

The UFU believes it is vital the Commission manages the release of existing intervention stocks back onto a fragile market and that Phil Hogan presents a package in July that can be implemented quickly and effectively.

“We do not want to pour cold water on a new dairy package – but we are trying to be realistic about the practical impact of what is likely to emerge in Brussels,” the UFU Deputy President said.