Just 2,000t of SMP left in intervention – for now

A total of 1,784t of skimmed milk powder (SMP) has been sold from European intervention stocks, according to Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) sources in Brussels.

The product was sold at a minimum price of €1,631/t, the sources added.

Following the recent sale, just over 2,000t of SMP is left in European intervention stocks.

However, with Brexit departure day nearly at hand – less than 40 days away – the prospect of intervention could well be a tool to be used again in the aftermath of the UK’s exit from the single market and customs union.

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan has previously stated that measures available under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and used in other cases of market disturbance, “would be available“ in the event of a hard Brexit.

The tools used in previous disturbances, such as BSE and the Russian import ban, included: intervention; aids to private storage; and financial aid through additional direct payments.

Such a scenario would have severe consequences on Irish agriculture.

A speech by the UK’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove earlier this week, has set the Irish agricultural sector on target for tariffs on trade inwards, should a no-deal Brexit emerge on March 29.

It now looks likely that farmers and those working in the Irish agri-food sector will face potential tariffs of €1.7 billion, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Micheal Creed.

Meanwhile, during the speech, Gove pointed out that the UK would not cut off tariff barriers in the event of a no-deal Brexit – meaning that Irish farmers would be subject to the same tariffs as set by the UK on other countries it engages with on trade deals.

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