Minister warns farmers to stay within milk quota
Dairy farmers should not pin their hopes on any "unrealistic" hope that the European Commission will increase national milk quotas ahead of the 2015 abolition date, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has warned.
"There will be no magic solution for farmers who exceed their quota allowance," he told the 350 farmers gathered at the ICMSA annual general meeting in Limerick on Friday. "My advice to farmers is very strongly to remain within quota.
"There are powerful forces at work in Europe who do not want the quota regime to end. Countries like Poland, France, Spain and Portugal are very, very nervous about the ending of quotas and would like to see quota abolition delayed until 2020," Minister Coveney revealed. "I have my work cut out for me to make sure things happen as they are planned between now and 2015, so there will be no dramatic solution for farmers who go over quota in Ireland."
"Farmers need to be realistic and manage their milk supplies between now and 2015," he warned. "I know that's not what you want to hear, but it's what you need to hear."
Minister Coveney was responding to a call from ICMSA president John Comer to lobby strongly for changes to the butterfat reference that would reduce Ireland's looming superlevy bill.
"We were promised a softer landing and, given that quota are going anyway, we believe the quota rules should be relaxed between now and 2015," he told the Minister.
Ireland is currently running 0.9pc over quota and farmers face a 28.4c/l penalty on every extra litre of milk produced over their individual limits.