FRANCE and Ireland have called on the European Commission to increase the level and scope of export refunds and to continue to apply all available market support measures for the dairy industry.
Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith and his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire met in Paris to discuss measures to assist dairy farmers.
They welcomed the decision to hold a special meeting of EU agriculture ministers on October 5 to discuss measures to support the sector. Ireland and France had sought such a meeting.
Mr Smith said France and Ireland are traditionally close in EU agriculture discussions and this is also true in relation to the need for strong action to support dairy farmers at the present time.
“It is gratifying and reassuring to have such a strong ally on this key issue for Irish farmers,” he said.
Mr Smith said Ireland and France are joint signatories to a set of detailed proposals to support the sector.
Support for this plan has been growing steadily in recent weeks, and 18 other EU member states have now also supported it.
“I recognise that the commission has been quick to deploy aid to private storage, intervention and export refunds to support the sector to date. But the fact is that these measures, while stabilising the market, have proved insufficient to lift it.
“We now need to act on the proposals from a large and growing number of member states,” added Mr Smith.
The ministers also discussed the future of the Common Agriculture Policy after 2013 at their Paris bilateral.
Mr Smith said the negotiations on the future of the CAP are absolutely vital for Irish farmers and it is important for Ireland to have a good understanding of the positions of France and other member states.
A strong and well- resourced CAP is more important than ever to support sustainable European agriculture and to ensure a secure supply of high-quality food to European consumers.
Mr Smith said he had also raised the issue of climate change with Mr Le Maire in the run-up to the United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen next December.
“The world faces the twin challenges of doubling food production and dealing with climate change at the same time.
“This presents a tremendous challenge and I believe it is very important that everyone recognises the special role of agriculture and forestry in coping with these two global objectives,” he said.
The ministers discussed a number of other issues, including the need to further simplify the CAP.
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