Saturday 1 October 2016

ICMSA calls for clarity on milk crisis fund

Declan O'Brien

Published 06/09/2016 | 02:30

ICMSA president John Comer
ICMSA president John Comer

The ICMSA has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to clarify whether or not farmers must join the Voluntary Milk Supply Reduction Scheme to be eligible for the €11m Crisis Fund.

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Although a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture insisted the two schemes were separate initiatives, ICMSA president John Comer said the rules of Crisis Fund explicitly linked it with the Milk Supply Reduction Scheme.

Mr Comer pointed out that to be eligible for the €11m fund, Member States had to ensure that farmer applicants met one or more of a list of criteria that included:

Participating in Voluntary Milk Supply Reduction Scheme;

Farming at a small scale;

Engaging in extensive production methods;

Being involved in a quality scheme;

Training in financial instruments and risk management tools.

"It is abundantly clear that Minister Creed in drawing-down the €11m fund - will have to include one of these criteria in whatever package of measures he puts forward," Mr Comer said.

"In advance of the closing date for the Voluntary Milk Supply Reduction Scheme on September 15, Minister Creed must inform farmers whether or not participation in that scheme will be the qualifying criteria for application to the €11m Dairy Crisis Fund," he added.

Meanwhile, Minister Creed confirmed that farmers applying for the Voluntary Milk Supply Reduction Scheme must get application forms from their milk purchaser.

The scheme, which was officially launched last week, facilitates farmers who wish to reduce milk production in a three-month period, the first period being October to December this year.

Any reduction in output will be measured against their production in the same period in 2015, with farmers receiving around 14c/l for the volumes accepted under the scheme.

There are plans for further rolling three-month reduction periods after this but only applications for the first period are being accepted now.

The roll-out of the scheme beyond this first period will be dependent on uptake of the €150m package across the EU.

Further information is available on the department website.

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