Group to deal with fallout from end of milk quotas

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

Aideen Sheehan and Niall O'Connor

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney is set to announce the establishment of a high-level forum to deal with fallout from the end of milk quotas.

While there is excitement at the ending of restrictions on milk production on March 31, there are also concerns about price volatility and the risk of farmers becoming heavily indebted as they scale up to take advantage of their new freedom.

The forum proposed by Fine Gael TDs John Deasy and Michael Creed would be made up of representatives from the banks, farmers, co-ops and retail sector.

"Given the relative unknown farmers are entering into, there needs to be an efficient and flexible oversight system in place," Mr Deasy told the Irish Independent.

"It would be led by the secretary general of the Department of Agriculture and bring all the stakeholders' resources and expertise together within an effective strategic framework."

A spokesperson for Mr Coveney confirmed that he was open to the idea of an oversight forum.

Mr Coveney will join Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan today to open Glanbia's massive new Belview milk processing plant on the Waterford/Kilkenny border.

Glanbia said the €235m plant was the biggest infrastructure investment by an indigenous Irish company since the founding of the State and would capitalise on the ending of the decades-old quota regime.

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The drying plant can process up to 700 million litres of milk a year into powders for use in the lucrative international infant formula milk market which Glanbia produces under contract for other companies. More than 70 people will be employed in the factory, which has been constructed over the past two years.

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has downplayed fears of volatility and a surge in EU milk production, saying that Ireland is one of just seven or eight countries in Europe that will increase milk production with the end of quotas.

Irish Independent

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