EU dairy sector must retain €30m left unspent under milk reduction scheme – IFA

The IFA is calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed to obtain a ‘retention’ for the €30m left unspent under the EU milk reduction scheme.

It is hoped these funds could be used to support the dairy sector across the EU.

Payments for the first phase of the EU production scheme began to be issued last week.

This run of payments saw almost €6.5m paid out to 3,500 Irish dairy farmers, Minister Creed had said.

Payments for the much smaller second and last phase are due at the end of this month, according to the IFA.

The scheme was allocated an overall budget of €150m – to cover all applicants across the EU.

It is now apparent that the full scheme yielded 80% of the production reduction it was planned to deliver, the IFA’s National Dairy Committee Chairman, Sean O’Leary, said. This would mean €30m out of the €150m fund put forward for the scheme will remain unspent.

The IFA believes that it is crucial that Minister Creed lobbies, with fellow EU Agri-Council members, to retain this amount in the dairy budget for continued support.

The EU Commission has reiterated its intention to return the underspent amount to the general EU budget.

“However, it is important to remember that the origin of much of the funds utilised in this scheme was the massive €870m superlevy bill paid by EU dairy farmers in the last year of quotas, including €71m from Irish dairy farmers.

“I therefore urge Minister Creed and his officials to seek the retention of those funds within the dairy budget, in order to be able to use it to support the dairy sector – in what the EU Commission has repeatedly recognised as a fragile recovery,” he concluded.