A decision on a date for the next meeting of the dairy forum has yet to be made, with question marks whether one will take place before the General Election or not.

Earlier in 2015, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney announced his intention to establish a forum to address the key issues arising in the dairy sector in a post-quota environment.

“I envisaged that this group, which would meet periodically, would adopt a strategic perspective and that it would comprise relevant stakeholders, including farm organisations, processors and cooperatives, state and semi-state bodies, banks, environmental and other stakeholders.

“Such a dairy forum is appropriate as a means of engagement on critical issues such as market developments, sustainability, animal health, milk quality and price volatility,” he Minister has said.

The forum met for the first time in the autumn of 2015, with the agenda focussed on some of the aforementioned issues.

There was a particular focus on this occasion on the issue of volatility. The Minister also said that the forum served as an extremely useful mechanism to gauge stakeholder preferences with respect to EU targeted aid for the sector.

“We are currently in the process of implementing these provisions nationally with payments to farmers currently being processed.”

In his latest comments on the forum, the Minister said he looks forward to continued cooperation via the dairy forum to ensure that the Irish dairy sector can harness the opportunities and address the challenges that the future will bring in the context of quota free production.

“A decision regarding the timing of the next meeting will be made in the new year,” he said.