The co-ops’ decision to subside milk prices in 2015 could disadvantage Ireland when it comes to the national distribution of the EU’s €500m agricultural aid package, according to ICOS.

“We are hearing that the EU Commission will set out a number of priorities in terms of determining how the monies received by each member state,” said ICOS’ European affairs executive Conor Mulvihill.

“These will include the actual milk price paid per region since August of last year. But the problem with this is the fact that the Irish co-ops rightly actively subsidised prices for their farmer members for most of 2015.

“As a result, the actual farmgate prices reported to Brussels were artificially inflated.

“It is crucially important that these circumstances are communicated to the Commission in Brussels as a matter of priority. ICOS will also be lobbying to ensure that Ireland’s €69m super levy repayments for 2014/15 are fully reflected in the aid package made available to Irish dairy farmers.”

The ICOS representative believes that other factors acting as ‘keys’ in determining the national share out of the EU dairy aid package will include a region’s geographical proximity to Russia, traditional trading patterns with Russia and milk quotas held in 2014/15.

“Implementing and delegating acts will follow over the coming weeks,” he said.

“An announcement by agriculture ministers, detailing initially both the amounts each country should get and the general EU conditions for the spending of the envelopes, should be forthcoming on September 15th.

“Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has already made it clear that he does not want the issue of market stabilisation to spill over into 2016. So, on that basis, alone we can expect all the required implementing legislation put in place pretty quickly.

“This should also pave the way for national governments to utilise their share of the aid package during the current calendar year.”