Monday 26 September 2016

Hogan backs new support package for dairy sector

Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30

Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has given farm ministers assurances that he will bring in a second emergency scheme for dairy farmers by July.

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"Despite the extensive range of measures taken over the last year or so, the market remains weak and income for producers is severely affected," Mr Hogan said on Monday when farm ministers convened to discuss the dairy sector crisis.

"The Commission is working on a support package for the dairy sector, with financial resources if necessary."

He ruled out a private storage scheme for pig meat, and said that member states had only used up 42pc of the aid they had requested under the fruit and vegetable support scheme.

Since last year there have been several emergency measures put in place for the dairy sector, including the lion's share of last September's €500m financial package, and a more than tripling (from 109,000 to 350,000 tonnes) of the limit for public intervention to shore up skimmed milk powder prices.

However, earlier this month, French, Polish and German agriculture ministers signed a paper calling for new measures to support the dairy, pork and fruit and vegetable sectors.

They want more EU money to fund a cut in milk production, a revival of the private storage aid scheme for pork and an expansion of the fruit and vegetables support scheme put in place following the Russian embargo.

French agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll said there were now "around 15 countries" that support the joint position, including Italy and Spain, who have signed their own joint text.

He also announced that France is to host an informal gathering of EU agriculture ministers at the end of August to discuss the various crises and the future of the Common Agriculture Policy in the wake of the vote for a British exit, or Brexit.

"We are in the middle of an agricultural crisis and a political crisis at European level," he said. "Brexit changes the European order, it shifts the balance," he added. "We need to look at the situation lucidly and reflect together to come up with answers to the questions it raises."

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed called for "maximum flexibility" for countries facing a dairy crisis, and argued for an aid scheme similar to last September's package, which gave flexibility to Member States to pick responses that suited the individual country.

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