Minister repeats call for Brussels to increase dairy intervention prices

THE European Commission has again been urged by Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to increase dairy intervention prices.

He announced yesterday that he had also called on Brussels to increase the scope and level of export refunds.

Minister Smith’s latest moves came as thousands of farmers prepared to attend two of the country’s biggest regional shows today at Virginia, Co Cavan, and Cappamore, Co Limerick.

Dairy farmers in particular are in angry mood at low milk prices, high costs and other issues.

Minister Smith has repeatedly stated that he fully appreciated the difficulties created for farmers by current low prices.

He has also reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that the support measures are activated at levels that will make a real impact in the market.

In yesterday’s statement, Minister Smith said he had written to EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fisher Boel, most recently at the end of July.

He said he had asked for the measures to be taken urgently to manage the current downturn in milk prices.

Minister Smith said he also urged the Commissioner to develop a medium term strategy to enable the sector to manage the transition to a post-quota era and to deal with the effects of market volatility.

“Other EU agriculture ministers have written in similar terms to the Commissioner recently. ”

Minister Smith said he had consistently urged the commission to use in the most effective way possible, all market support measures. EU agriculture ministers will again have an opportunity to address the problems in the dairy sector at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers on September 7.

Minister Smith also called for those in the agri-food sector to engage with the consultation process recently announced by Tánaiste Mary Coughlan on a code of practice for the grocery sector.

He drew attention to the increased pressure on farmer and processor prices arising from the increasing negotiating power of the big retail chains, and to the huge gap in prices paid to farmers and those charged to consumers for some products.

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