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Increase of 3% in milk quotas called for by Ireland at EU Council of Ministers

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced that Ireland had called for a 3% increase in milk quotas from next April. The demand was made at the meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels yesterday and was echoed by a large number of other Member States. Minister Coughlan said she was very pleased with the level of support for this idea as she had been in contact with a number of her counterparts in recent weeks to build such support. The Commission undertook to analyse carefully the demands for increased quotas and to bring forward a report before the end of the year.

Minister Coughlan said that she was very pleased that the debate had now commenced on an appropriate and early EU response to the current buoyancy in the dairy market.

"We have been looking very carefully at developments in the dairy market, including future trends. Our conclusion is that the buoyancy now evident has given a whole new impetus to the wider dairy sector following the implementation of the Luxembourg agreement and the virtual removal of market support mechanisms that have resulted from the reform. We have entered a new period of trade in which worldwide supply is no longer responding sufficiently to increased market demand. Dairy farmers and the dairy industry must have the opportunity to benefit from the new demand situation by increasing output."

The Minister said that the Commission should not wait for the Health Check to respond to the clear signals that the market is now giving. If the EU hesitates now in its response, our competitors will take the market opportunities that we are best placed to service.

Minister Coughlan said that the milk quota system has served Ireland well over the years. "At the same time, it must be responsive to developments in the market and an increase of 3% from April next would represent an appropriate response," concluded the Minister.

27 September, 2007

Date Released: 27 September 2007