ICMSA Deputy President Pat McCormack has told Agriland that Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney may well raise the issue of a butterfat adjustment to the current milk quota regulations at the upcoming Agricultural Council Meeting, which will take place in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

“But the likelihood of him getting any concerted and positive response from his other EU ministerial colleagues is remote, certainly at this time,” he added.

“There still remains the distinct possibility of other member states seeking a restriction on the volumes of milk produced across the EU post 2015, as part of a trade-off deal on the butterfat adjustment issue. But this is an absolute no:no, where Ireland is concerned.

“We spoke directly to the Minister on this matter a couple of weeks ago. So he is very aware of our views on the issue.

“ICMSA will continue to lobby actively on the need for a butterfat adjustment over the coming months. In truth, it may well be the third or fourth quarter of this year before we see any movement on the matter.”

When asked if a favourable butterfat readjustment decision could be introduced on a retrospective basis, the ICMSA Deputy President commented: “This is not an option. The reality is that Irish milk producers will have to pay a superlevy fine of between €15 and €16 million for the 2013/14 year. For the most part this money has already been removed from the cheques paid to the affected farmers.

“Government cannot and will not step in and pay the fine on behalf of the dairy sector.”

Looking ahead, Pat McCormack is conscious that Irish milk production may well break through its milk quota allocation for 2014/15.

“Cows are milking tremendously well at the present time,” he stressed.

“And this makes it all the more likely that, during the current year, Ireland will considerably exceed the total volume of milk that was produced in 2013/14. This inevitability makes it so important for Minister Coveney to secure a breakthrough on the butterfat readjustment issue over the coming months.”