Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) President John Comer is calling for the immediate introduction of an effective Export Refund Scheme for dairy products in light of today’s decision by the European Commission to close the current Aids to Private Storage Measure (APS) for cheese with immediate effect.

Speaking at today’s National Ploughing Championships, he said he was never in favour of the APS measure. All it will do is put product in store for seven months, after which it will be put back on the market.

And that is really bad news for Ireland as next March and April represent two of our largest milk producing months. “The real answer to the current problems caused by the EU: Russia food debacle is to get surplus dairy products off the European market now. And this means introducing realistic Export Refund measures.

“Intervention would work, provided the Commission put the level of support available in this context at realistic levels. The current intervention price regime is of no value, whatsoever, to the Irish dairy industry.

John Comer went on to highlight the iniquity of farm support measures being used to push forward the EU’s political aims, in the context of its dealings with Russia. “Earmarking funds dedicated to providing bona fide farm support should not be used in this manner,” he stressed.

“It’s time the EU looked at other funding sources, if it’s a case of Europe using its farming and food sector as a blunt instrument to further greater political objectives.”

Meanwhile ICOS has noted with disappointment that the cheese PSA scheme has been closed.

“However, we are happy that the schemes for Butter and Powder remain open,” an ICOS spokesman explained. “We would also argue that all EU dairy countries have significant Russian exposure on cheese. It’s hard not to conclude that the Commission’s attitude on this matter is strange.”