Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Quotas to go but opposition growing

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

MEPs and Commission officials insisted there would be no rowing back on the decision to abandon milk quotas from 2015, despite growing opposition to the move in some quarters in Brussels.

A number of leading members of the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development maintained that the position on milk quotas would not be reviewed.

"There is absolute support for the abolition of milk quotas from 2015," said Scottish MEP George Lyon.

Mr Lyon was speaking at a special briefing in Brussels last week for journalists from across the EU.

This view was shared by the British eurosceptic MEP Stuart Agnew, who told the briefing that milk quotas were "history".

However, French MEP Michel Dantin admitted that support for the Commission's stance on milk quotas had weakened over the last 12 months.


While a majority of the parliament's Agriculture Committee had supported the scrapping of quotas in three separate votes, he pointed out that the margin was down to a single vote on the last occasion.

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The dissenting view on milk quotas was articulated by German MEP Martin Hausling, of the Green Party.

He questioned how the Agriculture Committee could be in favour of retaining quotas in the sugar sector, while at the same time supporting the dissolution of milk quotas.

Mr Hausling said the absence of supply management tools in the new regime could result in a massive oversupply of milk within the EU and provoke a collapse in prices.

The European Milk Board, which claims to represent 100,000 milk producers across the EU, has warned of such a scenario and called for a 25pc voluntary cut in milk production to prevent this happening.

Fears regarding the impact of over-production within the EU were also expressed by EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos during his recent visit to Ireland.


Meanwhile, Pascale Rouhier, of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), said the organisation fully supported the abolition of milk quotas.

But Ms Rouhier added CEJA was seeking interim measures with regard to the superlevy and the availability of quota in the run-up to the ending of the current regime.

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