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IFA Meets Ag Minister on 'Unfinished' Dairy Report

30 July 2009

IRELAND - The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) is to meet with Minister Smith on the recently published EU Commission’s Dairy Report on dairy markets.

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Richard Kennedy today (Wednesday) said he would be meeting with Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith before the EU Agriculture Council of Ministers.

“The Commission report is unfinished business, providing an important commitment to dairy market supports for the medium term, but needing additional measures to help lift dairy prices.

In a meeting last week, the IFA Dairy Committee were angered by the EU Commission’s suggestions that state aids be used to provide some farmer supports. We believe this was a retrograde step which would discriminate between dairy farmers in different member states and would undermine the very foundation of the Common Agriculture Policy” Richard Kennedy said.

The EU Commission report has yet to be approved by the Council of Agriculture Ministers in early September, and IFA will meet with Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith to look for additional, EU funded demand boosting measures, and to explore all possible options to support Irish dairy farm families in these times of unprecedented income crisis.

“The EU Commission must provide further supports now to stimulate demand and lift dairy prices through the autumn, so producers have the prospect of viable milk prices for 2010. This is how farmers will judge the effectiveness of EU action on dairy markets,” Mr Kennedy said.

“A number of the measures provided in the report will undoubtedly help support dairy markets for the medium term: extending intervention into 2011 and APS into 2010; agreeing to continue with export refunds for as long as they are needed; committing to holding stocks until markets are able to absorb them without disturbance and expanding dairy promotion programmes are all helpful measures,” he said.

Mr Kennedy also welcomed the Commission’s commitment to monitor and tackle the power of retailers in the food chain. “We need regulation of the retail food chain. With a fairer share out of margins, it is absolutely possible to deliver better value to consumers while ensuring farmers receive a fair share of retail returns,” he said.

“In addition to this, the EU must use export refunds aggressively to move meaningful quantities of product out of the EU market, and regain some of the world market share we have lost to the US and New Zealand in recent years,” he said.

“The Commission must also make the fullest use of its margin for manoeuvre in the dairy budget to bring forward measures which will boost internal demand and help rebalance markets rapidly. We have already made a number of proposals to reactivate the protein and butterfat processing aids which in past years used up hundreds of thousands of tonnes of product annually. It is critical that such measures be implemented, to provide an effective response to the exceptional income crisis faced by Irish dairy farm families.”

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