ICMSA President John Comer has said he remains adamant that the principle of introducing some form of strategic volumetric control mechanism with the EU dairy sector in the post quota era remains worthy of further consideration.
“This is a feasible option, given that the EU Milk Observatory is now in place,” he said.
“The first step in the process would be to give the observatory some form of statutory basis. ICMSA was the first lobby group to call for the establishment of the observatory 10 months ago. But the new organisation must be given teeth in order to allow it function properly. ”
Comer was speaking in the run-up to the ICMSA Presidential Election, which takes place in Limerick on Wednesday, December 17. The vote is the central item on the agenda for the organisation’s National Council meeting, which will be attended by up to 108 delegates.
The election is a two-horse race between the Mayo man and Stephen Shorten, from West Cork.
“Fundamentally, we need Europe to make decisions now that will prevent a catastrophe within the Irish milk sector during the first half of 2015, and possibly beyond,” Comer said.
“There are approximately 1,000 politicians and their advisors within the EU, all with a role to play in developing strategic support policies for the dairy sector. But they must get their act together now.”
The ICMSA representative believes that strengthening dairy intervention prices is the key support weapon in the EU armoury.
“Teagasc analysis confirms that the break even cost of production price for milk is 28.5c/L,” he said.
“This figure takes no account of labour costs. So it makes obvious sense that the intervention prices for dairy products should be re-structured to take account of this reality.”
But Comer believes that the other support tools available to the EU Commission – aids to private storage and export refunds – must be managed with a degree of sensitivity.
“I do not believe in the principle of simply dumping our problems on other regions of the world. Above all else, we want to ensure that international dairy markets are recovering, across the board, once we reach the time of Irish peak output in 2015.”