Department officials working on superlevy payment scheme

Department officials are working hard to roll out a new payment scheme for Ireland’s impending superlevy as the March 1 date for the end of milk quotas nears, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

The Minister said the Commission has, however, in recent weeks, come forward with a proposal aimed at introducing an instalment facility for farmers who are facing a super levy liability.

This proposal was approved at the Management Committee recently and Ireland voted in favour of the proposal.

“My officials are working out the practicalities of implementing this scheme now that it has been approved at EU level,” he said.

The end of January 2015 milk quota position, which is the latest currently available, shows that Ireland is an estimated 5.47% over quota, when account is taken of the butterfat content of the milk deliveries.

This figure continues a downward trend in the over-quota position, coming down from 7.15% in October to the current position.

According to Minister Coveney while this downward trend is welcome, it is still very high and if it were to remain at this level to the end of March, Ireland would incur a super levy penalty in the region of €88m.

Each 1% over quota attracts a penalty of about €16m, he said.

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary has urged the Minister to set out urgently the detailed arrangements so that Irish dairy farmers and co-ops could avail of and operate the scheme without delay.

“The Commissioner’s proposal is for a three-year payment term for superlevy fines, which is to be interest-free to farmers. It will allow farmers to pay 1/3 of their bill in 2015, with the remaining 2 thirds payable in 2016 and 2017, free of financing costs. The scheme provides that the cost and administration of financing it would be left to Member States,” O’Leary said.

“At this point, we need an urgent announcement by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and the DAFF services of how the scheme will operate for Irish dairy farmers,” he said.

O’Leary als0 said we also need co-ops to take early stock of their and their suppliers’ superlevy situation, so that no more than one-third of the liability is collected from any farmer in 2015.

This will involve a variety of approaches, he said as different co-ops had developed different superlevy collection strategies, some having already built in extended payment terms.

“However, the result in all cases must be a fair and equitable redesign of their superlevy collection plans to ensure all farmers can benefit optimally from this new, cost-free, three-year payment term option,” he said.