Farmers 'irritated' at Hogan over dairy price crisis
Farmers groups have reacted with "irritation" to comments made by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan where he appeared to dismiss their concerns over a 40pc collapse in dairy prices.
In comments at the Ploughing Championships, Mr Hogan appeared to downplay the crisis in prices by saying there are always "peaks and troughs" in the industry.
But Mr Hogan's comments have been seized upon by farming groups who are demanding action to ensure an end to the volatility in prices.
And in a bid to quell Fine Gael backbench concerns over the collapse in dairy prices, the Government has established an "emergency" Dairy Forum, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney is to chair the first meeting of the new forum on Tuesday, in the Office of Emergency Planning in his department.
The idea for the forum was first mooted by Fine Gael TDs John Deasy and Michael Creed, and it will involve the Department of Foreign Affairs, An Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Teagasc and representatives of the dairy industry.
Mr Deasy, speaking to the Sunday Independent, said the holding of the Forum on Tuesday is an important show of support to Irish farmers, but he also said such a gathering has significant potential to grow the industry.
He said: "The idea came from a visit to Vietnam in March. The milk market there is worth US$6bn every year and we have very little of it. I believe we need to utilise every arm of the State, including embassy staff in places like Africa, to sell our milk and manage market volatility. The forum is about coordinating a long-term plan on a global scale."