Dairy hearing welcome but now is the time for action: Nicholson

Jim Nicholson MEP

Jim Nicholson MEP

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has welcomed a European Parliament hearing on the milk sector, taking place in Brussels this evening (Wednesday, May 25).

The event, hosted by the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, will hear from senior figures representing milk producers and processors, the European Commission and the Dutch Agriculture Ministry (in its role as Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers).

Speaking ahead of the event Mr Nicholson said: “It goes without saying that the dairy sector has come under exceptional strain in recent times not only in Northern Ireland but across the UK and the EU. The end of quotas coinciding with the Russian ban and downturn in the global milk price created a ‘perfect storm’ for the sector.

“There are a number of areas that need to be discussed. For example, in writing my European Parliament report on the Milk Package last year, I made the point that the Milk Market Observatory (MMO) should be beefed up. The MMO should become more user-friendly in order to help dairy farmers better respond and adapt to changing market conditions. I would like to see a revamped MMO that can produce accurate data in real time and communicate earlier and more frequent actions.

“I welcome this timely hearing in the Agriculture Committee, bringing together major figures in the milk sector and dairy farming community from across Europe along with the Dutch EU Council Presidency, European Commission officials and MEPs.

“However, our farmers are suffering at this very moment. We need to move beyond merely talking: now is the time for action.”