Action needed on milk prices


Galway East TD Paul Connaughton has called on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to travel to Brussels and discuss with his European counterparts what can be done to boost current milk prices and to dampen volatility in the milk market.
‘A significant drop in the price paid to dairy farmers for milk is causing great difficulty already for farmers and while most commentators had foreseen the increased volatility and price drops which would undoubtedly follow the end of the quota system, the present price for milk is making life impossible for existing dairy farmers, while those who made significant investment to begin production are in a particularly difficult position.
‘European authorities are strongly averse to any increase in the intervention regime, pointing to the fact that farmers already receive 3c/l in direct payments as compensation for volatility in the market place.
‘In the past week I have been contacted by a number of dairy farmers in the county and they are very concerned, both with the current price being paid for milk and the forecast of continuing volatility in the market. I have been in contact with Minister Hogan’s office and understand that there is strong reluctance in Brussels to any increased intervention regime. However, CAP has inbuilt in the programme a range of tools to deal with production problems. Forecasts estimate that throughout the European Union, milk production will increase by less than one percent this year, but markets have to be found for this increased supply. Measures such as intervention and private storage of butter and skimmed milk powder have been employed since last summer and targeted supports were made available to farmers worst affected by the Russian ban.
‘The dairy sector in Ireland has enormous potential, both in terms of agri food and employment. I believe that supports which are included in CAP can be brought into play in terms of underpinning the dairy market, and I will be urging Minister Coveney to travel to Brussels and see what effective action can be taken in coming weeks to ease the current pressure on dairy farmers throughout the country.’