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Minister Smith reiterates support for Irish Dairy Sector - Approval for Cheese Export Refunds

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today welcomed the recent expansion of market management mechanisms to deal with what is a very difficult dairy market, including the activation of export refunds when cheese products are exported outside the European Community.

This decision follows separate announcements in June to twice increase export refunds for butter, skimmed milk powder and whole milk powder and to accept into intervention extra quantities of butter and skimmed milk powder.

Minister Smith said that "going right back to the CAP Health Check last year, I have consistently pressed for the effective use of market management mechanisms, which have put a floor under prices and have prevented an already difficult situation for Irish milk producers being even more difficult.  The decisions to extend the intervention purchases of butter and skimmed milk beyond the end of August as well as extending the closing dates for private storage aid are also to be welcomed."

The Minister said he fully appreciated the difficulties created for farmers by current low prices and reaffirmed his commitment to "ensuring that the support measures are activated at levels that will make a real impact in the market."

Minister Smith also dismissed as "an entirely flawed argument, the suggestion that EU quota increases are the cause of the current low prices for milk, not least when EU production is already more than four per cent under quota."

The Minister concluded by saying that "a number of the measures for which I have long pressed are of particular importance to Irish producers and have a crucial role to play in stabilising the market, particularly given our seasonal pattern of production."  Minister Smith said that he "continues to monitor the situation closely and will continue to press the Commission to use the various market supports in the most effective way possible to improve the competitiveness of and support for the dairy sector."

Date Released: 29 July 2009