DII slams lack of progress on market supports for dairy

Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) has criticised the lack of progress being made in terms of market supports for the dairy sector from the EU in recent days.

Commenting, DII director Conor Mulvihill said that supports such as Aids to Private Storage aid (APS) for dairy produce such as milk powder, butter and cheese is urgently needed by the Irish dairy sector.

“Today’s lack of movement by the commission is baffling.

Every day that they delay in moving on supporting the market will result in further long-term damage to our rural economy. The long-term financial impact of non-action will amount to far more than action now.

“We have now seen severe processing difficulties reported by our colleagues in UK, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. The commission need to step up and act here.

“Since February, Dairy Industry Ireland has consistently worked at Government and at EU level to communicate Irish dairy’s unique exposure to the crisis, underlining the long-term financial health of our companies and suppliers.”

The director said DII “completely understands” that budgets are currently severely stretched, but warned “we must have an industry able to function when this crisis ends”.

“We can no longer delay in opening the toolbox to protect industry and farmers. Private storage aid for dairy products is a minimum.

APS gives the control back into the hands of the dairy companies and, by extension, the farmers in the market.

In another update on the Covid-19 situation for the Irish dairy sector, Mulvihill said: “Transport is still a big, big issue; it seems to not be improving.”

Given its geographical location on the western age of Europe, Ireland is at the back of the queue for shipping containers coming back in from China and Asia in general, the director noted.

Mulvihill said that, at present, milk processing and dairy production is going well – but it’s a case of keeping things going and “keeping the wheels turning”.

“We will push again for aids to private storage; we won’t give up,” he added.

With APS, not only is it going to be an effective financial instrument for us to smooth off our peak in terms of letting us go slower, but it would also be a signal to the market in and across Europe that the EU is going to support agri industry in a general sense.

The director reiterated his organisation’s calls for APS facilities to be made available for skimmed milk powder and butter, which is already legislated for, as well as cheddar – a key exposure for Ireland on the markets.