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Smith Welcomes €900M Advance Payment for Irish Farmers

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith T.D. today welcomed the decision of the European Commission to advance the payment of 70% of single farm payments to assist farmers experiencing difficulties in the dairy market and other sectors.  The decision will mean that almost €900m will be paid in mid October to Irish farmers. The Commission's decision came at the Council of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels today in response to pressure from Ireland and other countries for additional action to support dairy farmers.

In addition to calling for increased support for the dairy sector, the Minister spoke at the Council meeting on a number of other issues which are of immediate importance to Ireland, including simplification of CAP.

Dairy Market

In relation to the dairy sector, the Minister today called for continued and increased EU support for the dairy industry.  He urged the Commission to ensure that the market is managed very carefully, using every means available, and that further disturbance is avoided once we reach the end of the peak production season. Minister Smith called for public and private storage to be continued after their normal closing periods of mid August, and Commissioner Fisher Boel indicated that she was agreeable to doing this.  "A continuation of these schemes for a further period will greatly assist the sector and give it a much-needed boost", the Minister said.  The Minister also called for an increase in the value of export refunds for butter and for a suspension of the free at frontier price for cheese.  "We need to devote all our energies to getting the market back onto a growth trajectory. This has to be our clear priority," the Minister said. The Commissioner agreed to consider the issue of the frontier price of cheese and said that export refunds will be adjusted on the basis of objective criteria.


The Minister also welcomed the adoption by the Council of Ministers of a set of conclusions on simplification of the CAP.  The Minister said he was very pleased at the specific invitation to the Commission to examine a series of concrete suggestions for simplification from a group of Member States, including Ireland, and to report back to Ministers in November next on progress made.  The Minister said it was his firm belief that more was needed in the way of real and practical reductions in administrative burdens at farm level.  "The process on which we are now engaged should pave the way for genuine advances towards a simpler CAP", he said.

Commenting after the Council, Minister Smith said he was pleased that a large number of Countries shared his views on the need for action in the dairy sector and said he would continue to press the Council and the Commission to take immediate and appropriate action to address this issue.


Date Released: 25 May 2009