Hogan says talk of additional supports for dairy farmers ‘premature’

Hopes for additional supports from the EU for dairy farmers have been dampened by the European Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan.

Speaking following a lengthy meeting of European Agriculture Ministers in Brussels today, he said ‘talk of an additional financial aid package was premature’.

Commissioner Hogan said as many as 13 Member States had not yet utilised funding provided by the Commission under the previous support package.

He stressed that in the context of €135m of funding remaining unspent it would be ‘difficult’ to approach theCommissionn for ‘more money’.

European Agriculture Ministers will meet again in June to discuss the ongoing crisis in the dairy and pigmeat sectors, and Commissioner Hogan said he will continue to monitor the situation in advance of that meeting.

The Commissioner also highlighted that a number of Member States at the meeting raised the possibility of using the crisis reserve to help with the crisis.

In the past, the Commissioner Hogan had been against using the measure as it would involve reducing the payments of all farmers. However, today he noted that the possibility of using the Crisis Reserve has now been raised by Germany and he said should more Member States support its use it will be considered.

Continued strong milk production across Europe was also highlighted by Commissioner Hogan and he highlighted the Commission’s recent move to allow voluntary milk supply reduction schemes across Europe.

However, he did say that it was too early to say how effective this measure will be.

The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, today called on the Commission to re-examine the volume limit for fixed price intervention for Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP).

The Minister was speaking in Brussels where he was attending his first meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

Minister Creed also asked the Commission to give favourable consideration to a higher rate of advance payments in 2016, removal of customs tariffs and anti-dumping duties on the importation of fertilisers and a deferral of superlevy payments, among other measures.