Farm Ireland

Tuesday 25 October 2016

EU in Brief: French call for review on EU market intervention

Sarah Collins

Published 19/10/2016 | 15:00

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

France is seeking a review of EU market intervention rules to benefit dairy farmers. 

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France is pushing the Commission to look at the price thresholds at which it intervenes to aid struggling farmers in the cereals, rice, sugar, beef, pork and olive oil markets, which it says haven’t been changed in 15 years.

During the last year, the Commission has tripled the amount of milk it buys up in intervention, but it hasn’t touched the price thresholds.

EU agriculture ministers are in talks about changing the legal form of the rules — known in EU jargon as the regulation on common market organisations — but they are not touching the content. If there is no agreement on the issue by next February, the rules become null and void, meaning market intervention would cease to exist.

Hogan's Brexit trip home

Phil Hogan will be under a different kind of pressure this week on a trip to Ireland.

He is in Dublin on Thursday to address the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee, ostensibly about the “State of the Union 2016” but, in reality, to assuage fears about Brexit.

He will not deviate from the Commission’s mantra that “there can be no negotiation without notification” by the UK of its official decision to leave the bloc.

His boss, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, has forbidden any preliminary talks with the UK before that letter is sent. But there was consternation in Brussels at the indications by Prime Minister Theresa May that she would seek to take the UK out of the single market and the customs union, the ‘hard Brexit’ option.

Exporters Feel the Pinch

Irish agri-food exporters say they are already feeling the pinch after the UK’s June vote and the further fall in sterling following May’s ‘hard Brexit’ talk.

An analysis by Ibec estimates a weakening of the euro/sterling rate from its 73p average in 2015 to near 90p mark would cost €700m in food exports and 7,500 Irish jobs.

Trade deal concerns

EU-Japan trade negotiations must be progressed to prevent other countries gaining a competitive edge, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has warned.

MII is calling on EU Trade Ministers to approve the signing of the trade agreement with Canada in Brussels today. Although Irish meat exports to Canada are quite low, Cormac Healy, Director of MII believes there is a real prospect of growing business.

MII would also like to see the European Commission “re-double” efforts on a trade agreement with Japan. “It is important that these negotiations are concluded as soon as possible so competing exporters such as the USA or Australia do not gain competitive advantage,” he said.

Payments to farmers

Basic Payment Scheme and Greening payments started flowing into 126,500 farmer’s bank accounts yesterday.

As 53pc of farm incomes are based on direct payments, Pat McCormack, Deputy President of ICMSA, said it is “absolutely essential” that there are no delays.

“2016 has been an extremely difficult year for all farm sectors, particularly the dairy and tillage sectors, and with tax now due delays in farm payments would place enormous hardship and pressure on individual farmers and this must be avoided at all costs,” he said.

ICMSA are confident that setbacks experienced by thousands of farmers in 2015 will not be repeated.

Price of pig meal

Pig feed millers must reduce prices immediately as price divide is “unjustifiable,” the IFA has warned.

Following recent Teagasc figures on home milled prices, IFA National Pigs and Pigmeat Committee Chairman Pat O’Flaherty said it’s clear that feed prices must immediately drop.

“As feed makes up over 70pc of the cost of producing a pig, farmers are very sensitive to movements in feed prices. According to the Teagasc figures, a tonne of compound feed could be milled for €222/t in September, while farmers are being forced to pay up to €270/t for an equivalent compound ration. “Even when transport costs are factored in, the gap is enormous and completely unjustified,” he said.


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