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

Smith welcomes strengthening of Dairy Market support measures

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith TD, today welcomed the announcement by EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mariann Fischer Boel to introduce measures to assist the dairy sector. Speaking on his return from a successful trade mission to Japan, the Minister said: "this new package of measures was just the remedy that the sector required at this critical juncture".

The Commission will reintroduce export refunds for butter, skimmed milk powder, whole milk powder and cheese at next week's Management Committee meeting. In addition, when intervention buying for butter and SMP opens in March, the Commission will purchase more than the fixed quantities of butter (30,000 tonnes) and SMP (109,000 tonnes) should the market situation warrant it.

In welcoming the initiative taken by the Commission in November to bring forward the scheme of private storage aid for butter two months earlier than usual it was clear that this measure in itself might not be sufficient to end the spiral of downward prices in the EU dairy sector. Though APS came into effect from 1st January 2009 instead of its usual start date of 1st March, markets have continued to deteriorate.

Minister Smith had made clear to the Commissioner in November, and again more recently at official level that the introduction of a range of supports would help to restore confidence and put a floor under market prices. "Given the current level of price decline, with butter and SMP below intervention price levels, I am pleased that the issue of milk has been addressed in a comprehensive manner", said the Minister. The opportunity is now available for the sector to press ahead with its marketing efforts to shift product into international markets with the support of export refunds and to avail of the storage facilities available under APS and, from March under intervention, while the commercial markets are fully restored.

Concluding, Minister smith said that during the Health Check negotiations he had argued very strongly in favour of keeping critical market instruments in place and using them effectively to respond to price volatility in the period of transition to quota abolition. The wisdom of that approach is evident in the current market situation. "The maintenance of these critical market mechanisms has afforded today's opportunity to activate these measures for the benefit of the milk sector in Ireland", said Smith.

Date Released: 15 January 2009