The Department of Agriculture has received assurances from the European Commission that a phased payment of the superlevy will be allowed, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

In response to a parliamentary question this week on the dairy sector the Minister said at the last Council of EU Agriculture Ministers’ meeting in Brussels in January, Ireland made the point that the continuing weakness in the global dairy market was having a severe impact on dairy farmers in Ireland and throughout the EU.

He said while the medium-term outlook was positive, it was important that the EU Commission use the measures available to it to assist the situation in the short term.

The Minister said that Ireland acknowledged that the Commission had already taken the step of extending private storage aid for butter and skimmed milk powder to the end of September 2015 and proposed that such aid should be re-introduced for cheese.

He also said Ireland has also proposed serious consideration of intervention, to be undertaken at price levels that would positively support the market.

Minister Coveney said from previous contacts with the Commission, Ireland had received assurances that it would be possible to phase the burden of superlevy payments for producers over a period of time and we sought assurances that this could be extended to the level of Member State.

The Commissioner has promised to respond at next month’s Council to this proposal, he said.

Ireland 5.93% over quota

Ireland finished 2014 calendar year 5.93% over milk quota, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said.

This figure shows a downward production trend in with the country 7.15% and 6.51% over in October and November last respectively. But the December figure is significantly above the 1.63% over-quota position of this time last year.

The quota year will end on March 31, 2015, when EU milk quotas will be abolished.