The Department of Agriculture is continuing to investigate alleged illegal movement of milk, arising from Ireland’s inevitable move towards an over-quota situation in March.

According to department “any abuse of the milk quota legislation is taken very seriously by the Department of Agriculture. The department is aware of allegations relating to possible infringements of the milk quota legislation and is currently thoroughly investigating the matter.”

A large Glanbia supplier is reported to be under investigation for alleged illegal movement of milk. A statement from Glanbia said it is facilitating inquiries by the Department of Agriculture into milk quota arrangements involving two of its milk suppliers pertaining to the current quota year, which ends on 31 March.

“GIIL implements procedures for milk quota arrangements in line with Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine guidelines. Pending conclusion of the department’s inquiries GIIL cannot comment further at this time,” it reads.

Latest figures show the total volume of milk supplies up to the end of December 2013, taking into account the relevant butterfat adjustment, leaves Ireland 1.63 per cent over quota at end December. This compares to 3.73 per cent under quota this time last year, and is up from being 1.38 per cent over quota at end of last month.

Under the milk quota regime legislation if, at a national level, Ireland produces volumes of milk in excess of the national quota the country incurs a superlevy fine. Under EU legislation this fine must be paid by the suppliers who brought about the over production and is currently set at 28.6 cents/litres for each litre produced in excess of the individual quota. Ireland last exceeded its quota in the 2011/12 milk quota year incurring a fine of €16.6m.

Cows on grass. Photo O’Gorman Photography