Coveney prepared to intervene on milk price
AGRICULTURE Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed he will seek an EU milk price intervention but only when the timing benefits Irish farmers.
Mr Coveney said they were keeping a close watch on milk prices on a "daily basis", as he launched the TAMS II dairy equipment scheme which will offer €50m over a six-year period.
His comments came as ICMSA president, John Comer, warned it is now clear "the EU dairy sector is in crisis" with milk price down 30pc since 2014.
The farm leader said immediate action is required to address the reality of farm livelihoods as the poor prices could continue for longer than anticipated.
Mr Comer called for pressure on the EU Farm Council "to get serious about the tools at their disposal and immediately raise the intervention prices" to a level that reflects the cost of milk production which is generally accepted to be around 28c/l.
The IFA has, with the EU farm lobby group COPA COGECA, lobbied for a revaluation of the 'safety net' intervention prices for SMP and butter, which currently equate to 22c/l.
However, Mr Coveney insisted dairy farmers should not panic and that a milk price intervention will only be sought when the time is right. He said prices in Ireland were higher than in New Zealand, where they were about 22c/l, and other parts of the EU.
The price reduction is "not a surprise" to farmers and had been predicted, Mr Coveney said as he launched the TAMS II scheme at Tom Walsh's farm in Kildorrery, Co Cork.