IFA demand task force

THE IFA is to ask Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to set up a task force involving the Government and all sectors of the dairy industry.

John Dillon, president, announced the move after the IFA National Council discussed the CAP deal at a special meeting in Dublin.

He said the aim of the Task Force would be to draw up and implement a strategy to secure the future of the dairy sector.

Mr Dillon said the implications of the deal are that 10,000 dairy farmers face the serious risk of going out of business with a knock-on effect of 3,000 job losses in the dairy processing and service sectors.

IFA Dairy Committee chairman Michael Murphy said the deal would cost the average Irish dairy farmer at least €5,000 per year, and reduce their profit by over 25%.

Donal Cashman, president of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (ICOS), the umbrella body for the country’s co-ops, described the outcome as severely disappointing and said it will result in a 19% price cut, 4% higher than the 15% agreed in 1999.

The value of the Irish dairy sector could be reduced by 327m by 2007.

This would cost dairy farms a net income reduction of €141m annually, after allowing for compensation of €186m.

This is an income reduction of €15m greater than Agenda 2000.

ICMSA president, Pat O’Rourke, said if milk prices are cut by 21% and compensation is only offered at 59%, there will be enormous losses for dairy farmers.

He said Minister Walsh will have to make provision for the losses that calf and weanling producers will suffer.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association president, John Deegan, said the outcome represents the best possible result for Ireland.

Macra na Feirme national president Thomas Honner said the deal gives member states so much autonomy on decoupling there could be a serious distortion of EU markets.

National Hill Farmers Association chairman John Devine said the deal was a major success for Minister Walsh, who had opposed certain proposals and achieved changes to others that would otherwise have cost Irish farmers €420m.

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