Coveney calls on EU to use dairy market management tools

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney, has called on the Commission to consider all possibilities including dairy market management to stabilise EU dairy markets.

“It is important however that these measures are undertaken at the right time and at price levels that positively support the dairy market .”

The Minister was speaking during last night’s debate on the future of the dairy market at the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers meeting.

“While the positive underlying dynamic of increasing global population and demand remains, European Union dairy farmers are vulnerable and acutely affected by temporary but significant market pressures”, the Minister said.

“Instruments such as Aids to Private Storage, Intervention, Export Refunds and Exceptional Measures are designed to deal with temporary troughs in price. These tools should be deployed, at the appropriate time, to ensure that they have maximum effect and that they place a real floor under the market, should that be necessary in the New Year”.

The Minister also called on the Commission to take action to mitigate the impact of super levy fines within the dairy market in Europe. The Minister said that 2015 will be a difficult year for the dairy market and dairy farms already affected by geopolitical and market factors beyond their control.

“We have had many discussions on the question of superlevy, and have considered a range of options, including a reduction in the amount or an adjustment in the butterfat co-efficient. This latter option appears to be administratively possible, and I believe that it should be considered again, even at this late stage.

“I would certainly be strongly supportive of a facility to phase the burden of superlevy payments over an extended time frame, in what will already be a difficult year for the sector. This is the very least that should happen, and should not preclude the additional option to adjust the butterfat coefficient”.

In addition, the Minister also called on the Commission to ensure support for the pigmeat market which is also suffering the impact of the Russian agri-food ban.

Minister Coveney went on to call on the Commission to expedite approval of new Rural Development Programmes and to ensure that there is a mechanism in place to go ahead with implementation of schemes prior to approval and to any amendments needed to the MFF without risk to the Member State.

“I am conscious of the enormity of the task facing the Commission in dealing with 118 Programmes, but our farmers are anxiously awaiting the implementation of the measures contained in our RDP, which are vitally important for the sustainable development of the sector.”

In response Commissioner Hogan agreed to introduce a mechanism which will allow Member States to open their RDP schemes as soon as they are approved by the Commission.

Council also discussed a series of conclusions of the Council strengthening EU policies for young farmers.

The Minister said he believes these conclusions send an important signal to young farmers that we are committed to putting in place policies that will assist them in their entry to farming and will encourage generation renewal. “This is a topic that is close to my heart. It was a major theme in last year’s reform of the CAP and we wish to maintain the momentum.”

Council was also briefed on CAP simplification proposals by Commissioner Hogan. “I welcome the Commissioner’s commitment to simplification of the CAP. Our ambition should be to achieve a common agricultural policy that is simple to understand, simple to implement and simple to control. I am committed to working with the Commission and other Member States on this issue.”