By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
Home A-Z Index Subscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Coughlan Announces Allocation Of 2% Quota Increase

Major changes to Milk Quota Regulations and Partnership Arrangements

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, has announced a series of measures in the milk sector aimed at facilitating the management of the quota system in Ireland to meet new opportunities and future quota changes at EU level.

Speaking at the opening of the new Emmental Cheese facility at Tipperary Co-op today, the first project completed under the Dairy Investment Fund, the Minister announced her intention to allocate the 2% quota increase secured at last week's Council of Agriculture Ministers to individual quota holders active on 1st April 2008. This quota would be granted to producers on a permanent basis.

2% Quota Increase

The Minister said that she had considered a number of allocation options that had been suggested to her by various organisations. However, she was satisfied that allocating 2% additional quota to every active producer active on 1st April 2008 was the fairest and most equitable manner of allocation in that it rewarded farmers proportionately for the efforts they had made individually to building up their farm enterprises. She said: "In making this decision I am conscious of the fact that further quota increases will be agreed in future years as the EU moves in the direction of quota abolition in 2015."

The Minister will publish a notice giving effect to this decision shortly. The additional quota will be available to producers with effect from 1st April 2008.

Health Check

Referring to the Health Check, the Minister said: "Future quota increases must ensure a framework of policy certainty so that farmers can plan their investment decisions." Referring to the need for a 'soft landing' she said: "I am not satisfied that this can be achieved with the level of increases suggested recently by the Commission and I have asked the Commissioner to present more ambitious proposals in May."

The Minister believes that Ireland is well placed to produce more milk to satisfy international growth in demand and she would favour a 'special increase' for countries like Ireland that have the capacity to produce more.

Quota Regulations

In order to facilitate quota expansion, and building on the success of the Milk Quota Trading Scheme, Minister Coughlan announced major changes to the milk quota regulations and to Milk Production Partnerships. Introducing the changes the Minister said: "I initiated a review of the milk quota regulations in order to remove obstacles to consolidation and the more flexible functioning of the quota regime."

These changes are:

  • Quota sold or transferred with land will no longer have to remain attached to that particular land. This will assist the consolidation of farm holdings;
  • The restriction preventing the sale of land and quota out of disadvantaged areas has been removed;
  • In-laws will in future be classified as qualifying relatives for the purposes of family transfers;
  • Family transfers will no longer be confined to a single transaction at one time but may be phased as suits the purposes of the transfer parties;
  • Leasing of quota to a registered company will be allowed subject to the condition that the main shareholder in the company is an active dairy farmer; and
  • Exemptions to the three month notice provision in relation to quota movements between purchasers will be allowed for dual quota holders, for producers entering a Milk Production Partnership, for producers leasing into a company of which they are shareholders and, intra-group transactions where the transferring Co-ops are under the same ownership.

Milk Production Partnerships

The Minister also announced changes to participation in Milk Production Partnerships. She said: "I have listened very carefully in recent months to the views of dairy farmers and their organisations and I have decided also to make significant changes to the rules governing Milk Production Partnerships."

The main changes are:

  • In future, the definition of partnerships will be one in which there is at least one dairy farmer. This will allow for the participation of non-dairy farmers and there will be no upper limit on the number of participants in a Partnership;
  • The off-farm income limit will be increased to €40,000 for new entrants qualifying in their own right for preferential quota from the priority pool and there will be no income limit for other participants;
  • The upper age limit (61) will be abolished;
  • There will be no distance limit between holdings involved in Partnerships;
  • Similarly, the requirement that the ratio of size between partners in a Standard Partnership should be no more than 4:1 has been abolished; and
  • Quota allocated preferentially to young farmers will be returned to the National Reserve where Partnerships are dissolved prematurely, though force majeure considerations will be taken into account.

Comprehensive Package of Measures

These changes will be brought into effect from the new quota year commencing on 1st April 2008 by way of Statutory Instrument. This brings together a comprehensive package of measures that the Minister has introduced in the milk sector in the past two years. This package includes the €114 million Dairy Investment Scheme, from which many new projects are now in the course of completion, the Milk Quota Trading Scheme, which has just successfully completed a fourth Exchange, and the recent announcement of major changes in the milk-testing regime, which now includes testing procedures for all the main milk payment constituents.

Concluding, the Minister said: "Together with recent changes I have announced in the milk testing regime, the on-going commissioning of dairy investment projects approved under the Dairy Investment Fund, the highly successful Milk Quota Trading Scheme, the 2% quota increase and the changes announced today on Partnerships and quota regulations, I am confident that the Irish dairy industry can achieve considerable growth in dairy sector output in the coming years."

    Date Released: 27 March 2008