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Minister Smith Welcomes Change to Cheese Export Rules

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today welcomed the EU Commission's positive response to his request to amend regulations governing the export of cheese from the EU.  Prior to the amendment, a minimum `free-at-frontier' cheese threshold price was set at €2,300 and product valued below the threshold was not eligible for an export refund.  In the current market situation where cheese prices have reduced considerably the price threshold was no longer relevant nor justified. Today's decision to remove the free-at-frontier price allows the activation of export refunds when cheese products are exported outside the European Community.   

Minister Smith has been pressing the Commissioner to review the price threshold since the early part of the year in bi-lateral contacts and at meetings of the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers.  Speaking after the decision was taken at the Milk Management Committee meeting in Brussels, the Minister said, "I am pleased to note that the Commission today decided to remove the free-at-frontier threshold price for cheese exports, which I have been requesting for some time.  This has the potential to assist increased volumes of exports of Irish cheese onto world markets and to stimulate fresh demand". 

The Minister stressed the importance of utilising all available measures to improve exports in the current depressed dairy market.  "This amendment is an example of how a pragmatic approach to the application of the Community Regulations can have a direct beneficial effect.  I will continue to press for the introduction of appropriate supports as the opportunities arise".

Date Released: 23 July 2009