Ireland defends EU deal on milk quotas
Irish Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith has defended his negotiation of a new EU deal on milk quotas in the face of hostile opposition from some dairy farmers.
Mr Smith told the annual general meeting of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association yesterday (Nov 24, 2008) that securing a net increase of more than 9 percent in additional quota, combined with the retention of essential market support measures, was an exceptional achievement.
However, delegates at the meeting at Limerick Racecourse called on the association's national executive to decide on a national protest campaign to highlight the difficulties the sector faced.
The organisation's president, Jackie Cahill, said the ICMSA opposed the increase in milk quota now and the ending of the system in 2015 because it would mean farmers here producing at below market price.
Cahill said that the Minister for Agriculture and his officials may have been fooled by the EC commission on the abolition of quotas and the extra quotas, but let him not attempt to fool the dairy farmers here or outside with the fantasy that the extra quotas are worth GBP100 million.
The extra quota will cost hundreds of millions in terms of reduced incomes over the coming years. Neither the commissioner nor the Department for Agriculture have advanced one sustainable argument why the ending of the milk quota scheme will improve the position of European dairy farmers or consumers, Cahill added.
Mr Smith said the extra quota would increase milk production in Ireland by 500 million litres during the period and, at a conservative estimate, would generate GBP100 million in additional revenues for dairy farmers.
He said it would also pave the way for a "soft landing" before the abolition of quotas in 2015. This was great news for progressive dairy farmers who, he said, for too long, had been starved of the potential to expand their dairy enterprises.
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