Monday is D-Day for dairy farmers as EU reveals new support measures

Dairy farmers across Europe will find out on Monday the details of further EU supports in light of the ongoing issues in the dairy sector.

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan will outline supports for EU dairy farmers that are expected to centre around controlling milk production.

Despite saying in May that hopes of additional supports for dairy farmers were ‘premature’, and pointing out that some €135m of the original €500m package, which was announced late last year, was unspent by some Member States, a new package of supports for dairy farmers will be announced on Monday.

At the meeting of European Council of Agriculture Ministers it is expected that they will discuss and endorse the package of support measures to be unveiled by Commissioner Hogan.

How Hogan will divide up any package on Monday remains to be seen, but insiders say milk supply reduction measures will have to form a large part of it.

Germany, France and Poland have been to the fore in pushing for measures to curtail production levels across Europe and it is expected that such voluntary measures will be unveiled on Monday.

ICMSA President, John Comer, said dairy farmers want one thing and that’s an improved milk price. “This can be achieved either by an improved intervention price or measures to voluntarily reduce milk supplies.”

“There is a possibility that the issue of a voluntary reduction scheme with a cents-per-litre payment will be tabled and we expect – and trust – that it will be completely voluntary so giving individual farmers the flexibility and freedom to decide how the figures will work out for them.”

Earlier this month, the Commissioner said the public intervention system will also have to be looked at in the new package.

In June, at the last Council of Ministers meeting, there was continued concern expressed about the current market downturn and the need to alleviate the condition of European farmers and help the sustainability of the most affected sectors.

How much Monday’s package will be worth remains unclear, but one source in Brussels said the figure could not be expected to be anywhere in the region of the €500m of the last aid package.

IFA has said any moves to towards conditionality in aids, especially relating to the requirement to reduce production, and to put forward Ireland’s concerns relating to Brexit to ensure Irish dairy farmers can avail of fair and equitable levels of support, should be resisted.

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