The Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine must achieve a ‘no strings attached’ butterfat correction, according to the IFA.

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary said ongoing lobbying at EU level, in which IFA played a very active part in the last four years, had finally led to the scheduling of a substantive discussion on the topic of the soft landing at this week’s EU Agriculture Council.

“Minister Simon Coveney must push hard on behalf of Irish farmers to obtain an easing of the butterfat correction factor for the final year of the quota regime,” he said.

“However we cannot ignore the fact that there is still more support for production management in Europe than for a loosening of the regime before March 31, 2015, and with weakening markets, this support will harden. We understand that recent discussions at EU level have shown still deep divisions between Member States as to the future of the dairy sector,” he said.

“The Minister must make sure that, in the conclusions reached by the Agriculture Council, he not only secures the necessary amendment to the butterfat correction, but he does not allow policy changes to be adopted which may in any way affect Irish dairy farmers’ ability to grow production or access market supports normally post-2015,” he said.

Mr O’Leary warned farmers against raising their expectations too high until this week’s discussions have come to their conclusion. “We cannot pre-judge the Agriculture Council decisions: the fact is that disagreements between Member States on how to manage dairy crises post 2015 may yet scupper a favourable deal on the butterfat adjustment. For the moment at least, farmers should wisely factor in the cost of superlevy for both last year and this one.”