Farmers pay up €44m in meat, dairy and mart levies in 2012

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Farmers are coughing up more than €44m a year in government and voluntary levies.

In 2012, the figure is estimated to be €44.3m for sales through the country's marts and meat and dairy processing plants. This tally excludes additional levies on grain sales and poultry.

Just over half of this amount was stumped up by beef, sheep, pig and poultry farmers, with dairy farmers contributing another €20m.

Almost 90pc of these annual charges are compulsory government charges imposed at the dairy and meat processing plants.

However, approximately €4.6m a year are classed as voluntary payments – often shown as 'European involvement funds' on farmer receipts. They are divided up between the ICMSA, Macra and the IFA, with the latter receiving the vast majority of the contributions.

As Food Harvest 2020 targets begin to kick in, levy collections have the potential to increase by €20m in the next eight years.

The increased receipts collected for statutory levies will be largely accounted for by the increased number of inspections required at slaughter plants and the extra promotion required to market the increased volumes of meat and dairy products.

However, the potential €2m boost in income for farm organisations will raise questions among many farmers already struggling to cope with increasing costs.

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Both the IFA and the ICMSA declined to provide any exact figures on the total amount of levies they collected from farmers over the last number of years. Our figures are based on the CSO's advanced estimates for 2012 milk and meat sales (see table on page 2).

While the IFA declined to state what they planed to do with the extra millions that are likely to come on-stream by 2020, the ICMSA said it had no plans to reduce the members' levies.

"In excess of 90pc of the €1.5m income in 2011 was derived from members' contributions," an ICMSA statement said. It added that members' contributions could be changed easily "if the situation warranted."

An IFA spokesman said that the levy funds "a well-resourced permanent IFA office in Brussels and provides farmer and professional representation on over 50 international committees". The most recent set of accounts for the IFA show an income of €13.5m for 2012, up €1.8m from 2011.

A number of dairy agencies are also in line for a income boost. However, the National Milk Agency (NMA) announced yesterday that they would be reducing their levies by over 20pc.

The NMA is an independent state agency charged with ensuring that dairy farmers producing milk during winter months get a 'fair' return for their product. It collects approximately €600,000 a year in levies.

The NMA's chief executive, Muiris Ó Céidigh, said that farmers can expect to see their contributions per litre to the agency fall to 0.115c/l from April 1, following a series of cost-saving measures implemented by management in recent months.

He believes that the agency's income will not increase after 2015 because the volume of liquid milk being produced is likely to remain static or fall.



However, the National Dairy Council's (NDC) chief executive,

Zoe Kavanagh, said that she needs every extra euro that comes after the abolition of milk quotas. "We don't have enough funding at the moment and after quotas go, I'll be hoping to do more to serve the industry better."

Ms Kavanagh said that the €2.4m of levies that goes to the NDC is only collected from about 70pc of the national milk pool due to the refusal of Dairygold, Lakeland, Town of Monaghan and Tipperary Co-op to deduct the 0.07c/l charge from suppliers' milk cheques.

"Non-contributors are getting a free ride, which at industry level is wrong," she said. "Just because some co-ops are more dependent on export markets doesn't mean that they won't benefit from our efforts to manage the image of dairying here. Premium priced markets will only be found on the back of a domestic market that promotes excellence," she said.

Irish Independent

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