DUP MEP Diane Dodds has commented on the performance of Commissioner Hogan at this week’s session of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee.
During the meeting a wide range of issues were covered, from milk pricing to greening requirements in the new Common Agriculture Policy.
DUP MEP Diane Dodds said: “Commissioner Hogan this week attended the EU Agri Committee and was met with a wide range of questions from MEPs including myself.
“One topic of discussion was the need for flexibility around greening and the need for a delay in implementation until 2016.
“Unfortunately the Commissioner was resolute in his view that the current policy must be implemented, given that this was a fundamental part of the new CAP which was agreed by the three institutions.
“I once again highlighted in Committee the continual fall in global milk prices, stating the results of this week’s Fonterra auction.
“I made it abundantly clear that farm gate prices are falling below the cost of production in Northern Ireland.
“I reinforced the point, based on facts, that this clearly is not a temporary blip in milk price and we need real and meaningful action from the Commission on intervention pricing and export refunds.
“I have also taken the opportunity this week to meet Commission officials alongside Dr Mike Johnston, the Dairy UKNI chief executive to provide an update of where markets are and how we can best protect farmers across Northern Ireland.
“My feeling from this meeting is that while milk production in the EU continues to increase and no product has been put forward for intervention, the Commission will be unlikely to reassess their current position.
“This is something which I warned would ultimately lead to a contraction among EU dairy farmers.
“It is clear that the new Commissioners are finding their feet and getting to grips with very important portfolios. I do feel that some are leaning on the side of caution in the meantime, but I am hopeful that this will change in the near future.”
Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said that during the debate he raised his concerns about the situation in the dairy sector and urged the Commissioner to review the rate of intervention to help support the market and minimise the impact on farmers. CAP implementation and the EU-US trade negotiations were also discussed.
Speaking after the Committee meeting Mr Nicholson said: “The current rate of intervention, set in 2003, is totally unrealistic and is as a result almost a useless tool - it must be reviewed to reflect the current costs of production. Intervention at a realistic rate would help to bottom-out and provide support under the market.
“During the debate I also called upon Commissioner Hogan not to fall into the trap of believing that the problems in the dairy sector will quickly resolve themselves. Farmers and processors alike are already hurting and with analysts predicting that it will be late 2015 before any upturn in the market I fear that many producers will hit the wall unless action is taken. We must learn the lessons from the 2009 crisis which is that doing nothing will unnecessarily prolong the pain for the sector.”