EU Agriculture Ministers will meet in Brussels today as dairy markets continue to contract across Europe.

The Commission will update the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers on the latest developments concerning those agriculture sectors that are currently facing particular difficulties, notably the dairy and pigmeat.

Dairy product prices continue to suffer from downward pressure given increased supply while skimmed milk powder prices oscillate around intervention level.

Ireland will be represented at the meeting by new Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the meeting will also see the Commission  provide information on the implementation of the package of support measures agreed on at the Council meeting on 14 March.

On 14 March 2016, ministers discussed the difficulties currently faced by European farmers in several agricultural sectors and agreed with the Commission to take decisive and timely action to supplement the September 2015 anti-crisis aid package with a set of additional measures.

At the end of the meeting, the President of the Council drew conclusions on market situation and support measures (7108/16), and instructed the Special Committee on Agriculture to follow up on the new measures and initiatives in order to facilitate their effective and rapid implementation.

Eastern bloc to call for more support

In a joint statement Ministers of the Visgard group which includes Poland, Chezh Republic, Romania, Austria, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungry called for more supports for the dairy and pigmeat sectors.

Among a host of measures the group call for the introduction  of temporary targeted financial aid for producers in the livestock sector at such a minimum level as exceptional aid of 2015 in order to compensate for losses incurred due to the decrease in prices resulting from the Russian embargo, overproduction on the EU market.

They also support the timely reintroduction of private storage aid for pigmeat as well as a temporary increase in aid for the private storage of butter and skimmed milk powder.

However, at the same time they also ask for the increase of the reference thresholds and temporary adjustment of intervention prices for the specified quantity of eligible products in the dairy sector.

The Austrian, Slovenian and Slovakian delegations will inform delegations on the impact on the
agriculture production of their countries of late frost and snow (8788/16

Agriculture and climate

Ministers will have an exchange of views on the relation between agriculture and climate, in light of
the Paris climate agreement of December 2015.

Ministers will be able to express their views on the implementation of the Paris agreement, the role of the bio-economy, how to integrate land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) into climate change targets and achieve the latter without threatening food production.

The Paris climate agreement was reached on 12 December 2015 during COP 21. The EU committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in EU territory by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

The debate has huge relevance to Ireland as our Agriculture sector accounts for a much higher proportion of Greenhouse gas emissions than in other EU Member States.