Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Simon Coveney has, again, failed to secure agreement on the proposed 2014/15 Milk Quota butterfat adjustments at today’s Council of EU Farm Ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

A compromise position paper, put forward by the Dutch representation, was discussed in detail. However, despite the best efforts of Minister Coveney, it was obvious that a voting majority for the measure could not be secured from the grouping in attendance.

“The issue was not put to a vote,” ICOS representative in Brussels Conor Mulvihill told Agriland.

“Had this been the case there would have been 140 votes cast against the paper put foratd by the Netherlands. It was obvious, courtesy of the today’s get-together, that Romania and Bulgaria have now joined the ‘No’ camp. At these EU Farm Council meetings 116 is the magic number when it comes to the formation of a blocking minority vote.

“It was also obvious that the French would still have countered any move to grant Ireland a butterfat dispensation with their proposal to introduce dairy market management measures, once the current milk quota regime ends on March 31 next. If accepted, this would represent the re-introduction of quotas by the back door, a position which Ireland could never agree to.

“Despite the fact that Minister Coveney spoke well today, the fact remains that a significant number of EU Farm Ministers believe that Ireland will flood Europe with dairy products once quotas are terminated. And it is this perception, more than anything else, that is colouring their views when it comes to the issue of the proposed butterfat re-alignment.”

The next Council of Agriculture meeting will take place in September. However, there is a growing belief amongst lobbyists in Brussels that Ireland has taken the butterfat amendment issue as far as can be expected. And to try pushing it again in the autumn could have very negative ramifications for Ireland’s political support base at the heart of Europe.