52,000 dairy farmers apply to EU scheme

Barclay Bell, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Barclay Bell, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
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Over 52, 000 dairy farmers in 27 Member States have applied to participate in the Milk Production Reduction Scheme, it has been revealed.

Commissioner Phil Hogan welcomed the news that the €150 million, which he announced in July, has been almost fully subscribed (98.9 %), with applications made offering to reduce production in the final quarter of 2016 by 1.06 million tonnes (of the 1.07 million tonnes available).

Reacting to the up-take figures UFU president Barclay Bell, said that from the launch of the scheme the Union had urged all farmers to make an individual decision whether or not to apply.

“We now know the numbers that did so, and the reduction in the volume of milk to be produced with the reduction in production here around half the UK average. The impact on the milk supply locally however will not be clear given that many producers had already scaled back production and were eligible for the scheme without reducing output further.

“Any reduction across the EU has to be seen in the context of the impact on milk prices of the weakening of sterling and an improving global dairy market and we have been active in already meeting with all of the main dairy processors, calling for the price increases to be passed on to their suppliers. We are however pleased that a number of farmers will receive a much needed cash flow boost from the scheme. We are continuing to discuss with DAERA the use of the other National Envelope element of the European Commission aid package, agreed in July and finalised earlier this month.”