IT is the quango that few taxpayers have ever heard of. But we pay for it with every litre of milk we buy.
The National Milk Agency is funded by a levy of 0.1 cent on every litre of milk produced – which brought in €600,000 last year.
It employs just five staff and has the job of regulating milk prices. One of its key functions is to ensure that dairy farmers get paid a higher price for producing milk during the winter, when it costs more to feed their cows. It does this by overseeing contracts negotiated by the dairy companies with the farmers.
The quango was due to merge into Bord Bia, but the move was abandoned by the Government.
The milk agency's chief executive Muiris O Ceidigh (who has kept the role since 1995) said merging the agency would not have reduced milk prices for consumers. He said the milk levy was so low – at 0.115c per litre – that it did not impact on the price of milk.
Bord Bia also opposed the merger, saying potential savings were not readily apparent. And the Department of Agriculture said there was no obvious fit between the two agencies.