Since the Food Vision Dairy Group was announced at the end of January, farm organisations have urged the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to resist implementing a quota-like system for the sector.

However, it appears that this has fallen on deaf ears, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The possibility of quotas for dairy output was raised at the latest meeting of the group yesterday (Monday, March 7).

Responding to this, the IFA said that there was “no legal basis” for the quota models put forward by the department.

“I want to be very clear. IFA will not accept the imposition of a quota of any kind on any sector,” the association’s president Tim Cullinan said.

“Over the weekend, we had [Minister Charlie McConalogue] calling for a ‘war-time effort’ to produce more food. Now he wants to limit production. It’s a complete contradiction,” Cullinan highlighted.

“What the department has put forward has no legal basis. IFA will challenge any attempt by the government to impose a quota on our sector,” he added.

“The previous quota system was an EU-wide regime. Any attempt to impose a quota in Ireland would not be consistent with the principle of the Common EU market.”

According to the IFA president, a proposal for quotas is “completely at odds” with publicly-made comments by Prof. Gerry Boyle, the chairperson of the Food Vision Dairy Group.

“The minister must now come clean and outline when the department’s modelling was done and when they arrived at their preferred option of a quota on the volume of milk produced,” Cullinan argued.

Meanwhile, IFA dairy chairperson Stephen Arthur claimed that the department “now appears to have a pre-determined plan”.

“The department should now provide all the documents they have prepared to the group as a matter of urgency.

“[We are] opposed to any crude measures that seek to limit production. Instead, we should be developing and embracing technologies to reduce emissions,” Arthur said.

He called for the focus of the department and Teagasc to be on implementing measures to reduce emissions per unit of output, rather than on reducing output.