Severity of dairy income crisis recognised by High Level Group

THE severity of the dairy income crisis in 2009 has been recognised by a High Level Group (HLG) on Milk, which the European Commission set up last year.

Irish Farmers Association president John Bryan made the observation in Brussels yesterday as the Council of Ministers discussed the 50-page report.

He noted that the HLG had also highlighted the need to provide continued market support to secure viable incomes and domestic milk production in the EU.

Mr Bryan said it was crucial Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith would urge his EU colleagues to look for the continuation of well-funded, appropriate dairy market management, as this had played the most important role in recovering out of the 2009 dairy crisis.

The holding and careful management of strategic buffer stocks of butter and powder and well funded, but ad-hoc, export incentives, must form the mainstay of EU dairy market management before and after 2013.

He said this is needed to secure viable dairy incomes and domestic milk supplies for European consumers.

Mr Bryan said the IFA is totally in favour of strengthening the bargaining power of farmers and improving the transparency of the retail chain, particularly if it helps restore a fair share of the retail price for farmers, in the face of powerful multinational supermarkets.

However, the HLG recommendations on contracts and agreements must not impact negatively on major exporting countries such as Ireland.

Mr Bryan urged the commission to remain committed to speedy market management intervention as and when appropriate to sustain viable milk prices and to combat the impact of extreme volatility.

Mr Smith has already welcomed the contents of the report, notably the recognition of the value of continued market supports and the need to safeguard the proper functioning of the single market.

“I am particularly pleased that the group recognised the benefit of the existing market support measures, such as intervention and aid to private storage, and I would see this as being significant for the negotiations on CAP post-2013,” he said.

Mr Smith met with Agriculture Commissioner Dacien Ciolos before attending yesterday’s council meeting.


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