EU refuses to increase intervention prices
The European Commission has emphatically ruled out any increase in intervention prices as a mechanism to remedy the current family farm income crisis.
The EU executive yesterday unveiled a €500m package aimed at helping farmers through a crisis afflicting all sectors but most notably dairy and pigmeat producers.
The package put together by Irish Commissioner Phil Hogan includes the early payment by October 16 next of 70pc of voluntary coupled supports and young farmer grants, and up to 85pc of area-based rural development payments.
The plan also holds out the prospect of more EU direct income support for Irish farmers. But Brussels officials said it was too early to say what Ireland's share of a special income aid fund will actually be.
However, to the great disappointment of the Irish farm unions, there was absolutely no movement on dairy intervention prices.
Presenting the package, which includes aids for private storage of dairy products, EU Commission vice-president, Jyrki Katanien of Finland, insisted increasing the intervention price would not deliver more money to farmers.
"We owe it to farmers to make it clear that this is not appropriate policy response to the current situation," said Commissioner Katanien, who was deputising for Commissioner Hogan who has been hospitalised in Dublin due to illness.
The special meeting of the 28 EU Agriculture Ministers came as 5,000 farmers gathered in protest around the Council of Ministers building in Brussels.