All co-ops should put the issue of introducing some form of producer superlevy repayment system on the agenda at their next board meetings, according to the ICMSA President, John Comer.

Speaking to Agriland, he said he has no problem with Dairygold’s proposal to pay 2014/’15 superlevy payments, upfront, which would then be repaid over three years by those members of the co-op agreeing to take up the scheme.

“My understanding is that the repayments would be structured on an interest-free basis. It is up to each Dairygold member to weigh up the pros and cons of what’s now on offer. In general terms, ICMSA holds to the policy of ensuring that dairy farmers have as many tools in the box as possible, when it come to them dealing with their finances in the most effective way possible.

“But, it must be made clear that the Dairygold proposal is not a means by which farmers can avoid paying their superlevy bills. The reality is that Ireland will be facing the challenge of a substantial superlevy payment next year. As I understand it, Dairygold is 9.4% over quota at the present time: the equivalent figure for the country as a whole is 6.4%. And if, as looks certain, a superlevy is imposed next year, the onus will be on those affected Irish farmers to pay it.

When asked if the Dairygold proposal would weaken Simon Coveney’s attempts to get a butterfat adjustment on next year’s quota calculation, the ICMSA President said that the campaign to secure a butterfat re-adjustment continues apace. “It was always my belief that Brussels would only act on this issue at the very last minute. It would make no sense at all for the European Commission to act now, as this would only encourage farmers throughout Europe  to teak their production practises at this stage.”