EU Voluntary Milk Reduction Scheme could become permanent policy ‘tool’
European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee has voted to support the introduction of a Voluntary Milk Reduction Scheme as part of the policy ‘toolbox’ or permanent crisis instrument to be deployed in the event of price falling below an agreed level.
The news has been welcomed by the ICMSA President John Comer who said that there was little doubt but that the introduction of the scheme late last year had been a decisive factor in bringing the 2015/2016 milk price collapse to an end and initiating the slow process - still ongoing, he noted – of returning farmer milk price to a sustainable level.
Comer noted that ICMSA was alone in advocating such a measure in the Irish context while the policy was supported at EU level by the European Milk Board - of which ICMSA is the Irish constituent.
“We’re very aware of the fact that there is still some elements who are resistant to any idea of voluntary reduction schemes but the hard fact is that the introduction of the Voluntary Reduction Scheme played a very significant and possibly decisive role in putting ‘a floor’ under the market and signalling to the markets that a volume adjustment was on the way and that prices were going to have to strengthen as that adjustment-reduction fed through.
"It is a matter of record that ICMSA was the only group in Ireland that identified and advocated this type of solution to what had become the deepest and most damaging milk price collapse in years and the very prompt take-up of the scheme demonstrated both the need for this type of ‘tool’ and also the ongoing requirement for this type of effective, emergency, volume control mechanism.
"We know that this works and the vote by the Parliament’s Agricultural Committee shows that the MEPs understand that too. What we need now is the formalisation of this ‘tool’ and adaptation as a legal policy so that the next time markets come under pressure, farmers can opt to reduce production voluntarily and bring the market back into balance”, said the ICMSA President.