EU Parliament to host third dairy industry hearing

The European Parliament’s agriculture committee is fully aware of dairy farmers’ deep concerns regarding their prospects for 2015 and beyond, according to MEP Mairead McGuinness.

“The new Committee has already hosted two hearings, specifically on the challenges facing the dairy sector. And this week will see members take further evidence on the future of the European milk industry from a range of experts,” she said.

“In addition, MEP Jim Nicholson is acting as rapporteur on a comprehensive report from the parliament on the current dairy package. So the Parliament is closely scrutinising developments on both European and international dairy markets.”

The Co. Meath MEP went on to point out that the European Commission must be equally vigilant.

“It is obvious that volatility is now a key driver within the dairy industry. So it is incumbent on the Commission to provide realistic support for milk producers, prior to problems arising. This was not the case back in 2009. And members of the parliament’s agriculture committee have made it quite clear to the Commission that this must not be allowed to happen again.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Farmers’ Union Dairy Committee Chairman Jonathan Moore is indicating that a hike in dairy intervention prices can be ruled out in the short term.

“The latest soundings from Brussels would suggest that changes to the intervention regime will not be agreed until the current milk quota arrangements come to an end. But the reality is that local milk producers cannot wait until April or May of this year: they need all the support they can get now,” he said.

“It’s doubtful that an improved intervention scheme would ever cover the full costs of production incurred by dairy farmers in Ireland. But to get any sort of lift from the current baseline level would be a great help.”