The superlevy is not a surprise says Coveney

The superlevy is not a surprise the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney stated during a debate on the fine in the Dail this week.

The Minister outlined that he comes from the southern part of County Cork, which is one of the dairy heartlands of the country and has spoken to many dairy farmers about the issue.

“The superlevy is not a surprise. Farmers knew it was coming,” he said.

According to the Minister many farmers factored the fine in last year in the context of the price they were then being paid for milk.

“Many farmers who were being paid over 40 cent a litre last year, by the time bonuses are taken into account, factored in a superlevy fine of 28 cent a litre for some of the extra milk they were producing beyond quota.

“Obviously that is a much more difficult prospect now because milk prices have come back substantially since then,” he said.

“Rather than telling people what they want to hear, I have to be honest with them,” the Minister said.

He added that the deal we have now, which was outlined by the Commission involves a three-year interest-free staged payment.

“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has to pick up the tab for financing that deal so that farmers can actually manage it on an interest-free basis,” he said.

According to the Minister that goes way beyond what the Commission has ever done before in terms of facilitating a superlevy.

“I would have liked the Commission to have gone further. It has been suggested that months after this decision was made, we should fundamentally change it now just for Ireland.

“I do not see that happening without getting a significant number of countries to support it, which I do not think will happen at this late stage,” he said.

The Minister said the focus now should be on the practicalities that are facing farmers.

“They are trying to work through those financial practicalities with their co-ops to make sure nobody goes out of business,” he said.