Focus on delivering better prices in dairy markets - Coveney
Farmers have urged the State to top up the €13.7m of EU aid to provide a significant support and prop up the struggling dairy and pig meat markets.
A meeting is due to get under way next week to decide how to allocate the 'envelope' of direct aid from Europe, with other measures such as Aids to Private Storage (APS) designed to remove products from the shelves and help put a floor on the market price.
"If the Government match the EU funding, it will deliver a more substantial package," said Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) dairy spokesman Sean O'Leary.
In an interview with the Farming Independent as the National Ploughing Championships gets under way today in Ratheniska, Co Laois, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said: "We'll look at how best to allocate that money in terms of the broader interests of dairy farmers in the market place - around income support, around the capital assistance that they need."
After dairy farmers saw prices fall by a third after the abolition of quotas, Mr Coveney said he firmly believed the market would pick up and the €500m total EU aid package would give it the time required to recover.
"They (the EU) are pumping quite strong resources into market intervention, which will hopefully take product off the market at no cost to our companies," he said.
"The main focus is to try and get better prices back into dairy markets as soon as possible."