Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament, has called on the EU to immediately drop the superlevy regime in light of the impact of the Russian ban on the importation of EU dairy produce.

Over 33% of EU cheese exports go to Russia and already the ban is having an impact on milk prices in some Member States.

“It is unacceptable that dairy farmers would bear a superlevy at a time when markets are adjusting to the Russian ban,” she said.

There has been resistance to removing the super levy by a number Member States, she said.

“This resistance to the abolition of the superlevy, in the run up to the removal of milk quotas in 2015, must now be revisited in the light of the political situation and the imposition of the Russian ban.

“Such action is more than justified. It would provide some relief to producers,” she said.

McGuinness described as ‘unacceptable’ the proposal from the EU Commission that reductions in direct payments to farmers might be necessary to address the market disturbances caused by the Russian decision to ban the importation of agricultural produce.

Speaking this morning in the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament she said direct payments are an important part of farm incomes and any threat to them would be completely unacceptable.

“Direct compensation payments to farmers and sectors most affected by the crisis offer an additional possibility for addressing the effects of the ban if targeted towards those most affected, but funding that compensation from the direct payments of other farmers is not acceptable.

“We are dealing with a political problem not an agriculture problem, but clearly the impacts are being felt in the agriculture sector. In light of this it is important that sufficient resources are available to deal with the issue and that the costs are not just borne by the CAP budget, where resources are limited,” she said.