It is understood that the Department of Agriculture has decided on some of the key details of the payment of the EU dairy aid package this week.

It is believed that the Irish Government will 100% co-finance the €13.7m of funding Ireland received as part of a package of measures from the European Commission to help the dairy sector.

It is also understood that the Department will pay out some €25m of the dairy package this year.

Payment rates

Discussions held this week are believed to have finalised two figures that dairy farmers may receive:

  • €1,350 lump sum for dairy farmers
  • €800 top up for young farmers

The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has already confirmed that the EU dairy aid package will be paid out before the end of the year.

In his most recent comments on the payment, the Minister said that the Department was finalising details and that the value top up had yet to be decided.

However, Agriland understands that the key details were decided at a recent meeting of industry stakeholders.

Back in September, in order to effectively address the existing market disturbance in the dairy sector, the European Commission deemed it appropriate to provide aid to Member States in the form of a one-time financial grant as part of its recent announcement on a package.

Ireland has been granted an allocation of €13.7m from an overall fund of €420m.

The relevant Commission Regulation, as revised at the request of Member States, including Ireland, provides scope for a national top-up of up to 100% to this EU payment.

Following the news that the Government will match the entirety of the €13.7m direct aid for dairy farmers with national exchequer monies, Pat McCormack, Deputy President and Chairperson of the ICMSA Dairy committee, said that it is a welcome injection of funds into an industry that is suffering substantially due to continued low milk prices and these funds should be paid out to all dairy farmers immediately.

However, McCormack said that the total funding is only a drop in the ocean in the context of the losses suffered during 2015 and the potential losses in 2016 and, quite clearly, this must not be seen as the solution to the problem and an excuse to forget about the dairy industry.

“Dairy farmers need European policy to do more to stabilise the milk market while the Irish government needs to take further steps to minimise farm income volatility in the long term.

“The facts are that the estimated loss in revenues in the dairy industry in this calendar year is approximately €580m so these measures are required to address the escalating losses.

“Dairy farmers are facing into a seriously challenging 2016 and ICMSA is concerned regarding the non-interventionist approach being adopted by the Department and Commission and we need to see further proactive involvement in the market in the coming months with further aid packages to alleviate the losses incurred and to stabilise milk prices at a realistic level,” he said.

IFA Dairy Committee Chairman, Sean O’Leary also welcomed the news. He said the IFA had pushed for 100% co-financing and it is positive news that the Government has achieved this.

The top-up for young farmers is also to be welcomed, he said with the current dairy market downturn impacting on young farmers greatly.

O’Leary also said that the decision to pay the monies by means of the lump sum is also to be welcomed and said this should mean that the Department can distribute the monies quite quickly.

“It’s not a massive amount of money in the greater scheme of things, but none the less it is to be welcomed,” he said.