Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has called on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to negotiate a decrease in the super-levy for the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 milk quota years to ease Ireland into the post quota regime.

Deputy Ó Cuív said the minister needs to negotiate with his EU partners for the super levy fine to be reduced progressively for the years in question.

“In view of the abolition of milk quotas in 2015, it is reasonable to ask that a transition period should be established where quota restrictions would be eased and a reduced super-levy would be charged to farmers who have excess production.

“It is farcical to think that Ireland could face a very large super-levy fine in 2013/14 and similarly in 2014/15 and then on the 1st April 2015, there will be no restriction on milk production. This sudden abrupt change in policy will not lead to an orderly transition and it would be much better if this was eased in over a period of time.

“Since the decision has been taken to abolish milk quotas completely in 2015 it is now incumbent on the Minister for Agriculture to negotiate with his colleagues in the EU that there will be an easing of quota restrictions for this year and next.

“This is particularly vital in view of the very hard and difficult two years that farmers have had with very poor weather that lasted until June 2013. It is vital that they are given an opportunity to earn as much money as possible out of all sectors, including the dairy sector to recoup some of these losses.

“Inaction from the minister or bland statements that he cannot get the agreement of his colleagues is not good enough in view of the crisis faced by Irish farming.”

According to the latest data from the Department of Agriculture, the total volume of milk supplies up to the end of September 2013, taking into account the relevant butterfat adjustment, has left Ireland 0.42 per cent over quota – the first time our supply has exceeded quota this year.

This compares to a position at the same point last year when Ireland was 2.14 per cent under quota. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney made the announcement mid-October.

According to the department, while the figures are not unexpected, given the very favourable milk production conditions that prevailed throughout the summer and early autumn, the minister is anxious to remind farmers of a possible superlevy fine.

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