EU fines farmers €69m for producing too much milk
Farmers in Ireland face a €69m fine after finishing the year 4.3pc over milk quota.
The superlevy fine is imposed by the EU on countries that produce more milk than permitted under the old quota arrangements that were scrapped on April 1.
The Department of Agriculture estimated last night that the final bill will be €69m, based on 4.34pc overproduction in the year to the end of March 2015.
That would average nearly €4,000 each for Ireland's 18,000 dairy farmers - but in fact it will hit some producers much harder, as only those who produced too much milk are liable.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association said EU farmers would pay out a staggering €750m altogether, which was "illogical and absurd".
"This is a very serious siphoning off of substantial sums of money at a time when dairy farmers are being encouraged to expand and scale up," said ICMSA deputy president Pat McCormack.
It is believed many farmers delayed delivering milk in the last few days of the quota regime as milk delivered to dairies from April 1 on no longer contributed to the quota overrun.
A spokesman for the department said the superlevy fine is lower than the €100m-plus anticipated last year, thanks to farmers' efforts to reduce supply in recent months.