Next EU agriculture ministers meeting postponed…

This week’s scheduled meeting of the EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council – which brings together agriculture ministers from each member state – has been cancelled.

The update emerged in a reply to a Dáil question from Cavan-Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith. It is understood that the meeting has been postponed until mid-May.

Deputy Smith has voiced his disappointment over the development – particularly as it comes less than a week after the European Commission announced details of an €80 million Covid-19 support package for EU agriculture, which includes Aids to Private Storage (APS) for dairy, beef and lamb produce.

The size of the package on offer has generated much criticism from the country’s farm organisations and industry leaders, many of whom contend that it is “not adequate” to deal with the scale of the virus’ impact. It has been stated that the package amounts to less than €8 for every farmer in Europe.

It is most disappointing to learn from a reply by the Minister of Agriculture, Michael Creed, to my Dáil question that the council of ministers meeting proposed for April 27/28 has been cancelled.

“The EU Agriculture Commissioner announced some measures last week which are not adequate and the council of ministers must re-visit this issue as a matter of urgency.

“The minister can only refer to a likely date for another meeting on May 13 – which is more than two weeks away and which is far from satisfactory.

“The agriculture ministers and the commissioner should be attaching much more urgency to the very difficult issues confronting this sector and put in place adequate supports without further delay,” he stated.

The €80 million support package for farming – to be divided across all member states (including the UK) – is comprised of the following APS schemes:
  • Skimmed milk powder: Aid for an estimated volume of 90,000t to be kept in storage either for a full year, or for a minimum of three months to a maximum of seven months. Total budget: €6 million;
  • Butter: Aid for an estimated volume of 140,000t to be stored for a minimum of three months to a maximum of seven months. Total budget: €14 million;
  • Cheese (all): Aid for a maximum of 100,000t to be kept in storage for a minimum of two months to a maximum of seven months. Total budget: €10 million;
  • Beef (steaks): Aid for an estimated volume of 25,000t to be stored for a minimum of three months to a maximum of five months. Total budget: €26 million;
  • Sheep: Aid for a maximum of 36,000t to be kept in storage for a minimum of three months to a maximum of five month. Total budget: €20 million.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further updates…

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