THERE has been a mixed reaction to the move by Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to proceed with the allocation of extra quota.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) said the decision beggared belief, insulted farmers and was misleading.
However, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) said the announcement that a percentage of the additional quota available will be ring-fenced for new applicants was “a step in the right direction”.
Macra na Feirme also predicted it will benefit the industry by attracting much needed young people into it
However, ICMSA deputy president John O’Leary said: “Dairy farmers are in the worst income crisis in living memory due to collapsed milk prices arising from the persistent folly of the minister and his EU ministerial colleagues. Even those farmers who had tried to follow the bogus logic of the minister’s arguments were now being let down as they learned that they are not to get those quota increases that were promised as part of the so-called ‘soft landing’.
“Having succeeded in delivering disastrously low milk prices, the minister has now decided to tweak the quota increase system so that part will now be allocated on a lottery basis to new entrants. This is some policy,” he said.
Mr O’Leary said the ICMSA questions whether the move meets the requirements of objective criteria as set down in EU Milk Quota legislation.
However, ICSA president Malcolm Thompson said the option of getting into dairying had been denied to members for over 25 years. It was ridiculous that farmers and their successors were excluded on the basis of decisions taken so long ago, he said.
“Although milk price has fallen dramatically this year, the reality is that over any given 10-year period, milk production will strongly out-perform other farm enterprise in terms of profitability.
“Ireland’s competitive advantage lies in grass-based systems ideally suited to dairying.”
Mr Thompson said many suckler farmers have enterprises that are not profitable. Many of these farms lend themselves to milk production.
“This may well be the opportunity for these farmers to establish themselves on a viable footing. For too long Ireland has complacently allowed young farmers to engage in part-time farming while working off-farm on building sites and in factories. This quick fix solution could never contribute to a vibrant future farming sector and its short sightedness is becoming clear now.”
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