DAIRY co-op leaders from Ireland, Denmark and Holland have called for an increase in milk quotas by up to 2% per annum from 2009 to 2014.
A joint delegation from the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, the Danish Dairy Board and Dutch Processors put the call to EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel, at a meeting in Brussels.
They said the increase was required to achieve a “soft landing” and provide predictability of policy in the run up to the ending of milk quotas in 2015.
ICOS had proposed to the Danish and Dutch organisations and their co-operatives that a combined approach should be made.
The delegation pointed out the quota increase is unlikely to send a strong enough signal to provoke the preparations which need to be made for the post-quota era.
It called for a more ambitious quota increase from 2009, to encourage investment and strategic preparation for a future without quotas and said a more rapid rate of restructuring is needed in the EU dairy sector to secure future development.
“The cost of quota is an ongoing obstacle for producers planning to develop, at a time when they are facing rising environmental and animal welfare compliance costs, in addition to rapidly rising feed, fuel and fertiliser costs.
“The EU dairy sector is capable of developing in a way which will ensure it can compete on the EU and export markets, provided it is not held back and is given policy certainty and adequate notice,” they said.
Lexie Tinney, chairman of Donegal Creameries, said dairying is of vital importance to the rural and agriculture sectors in Ireland, Denmark and Holland.
“The three countries have efficient dairy sectors, are highly dependent on exports/trade and have the potential and ambition to grow.
“We have less than seven years to prepare for the future without quotas and this is a short period in the context of farm and processing investment decisions,’’ he said.
Mr Tinney said the commission is open to a larger milk quota increase, if there is a political support for it from key member states.
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