Short trial period for Hogan’s dairy package: Dodds

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DUP MEP Diane Dodds has this week commented on the need for EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to prove his support package will work or he will be facing questions from a wide range of member states on the need to raise intervention prices to make a real and meaningful difference to dairy markets.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds said: “During discussions this week in Brussels it is evident that the majority of people are far from over the moon with the range of support measures announced by the EU Agriculture Commission Phil Hogan.

“Unfortunately for many farmers here in Northern Ireland this is an extremely painful experiment for the Commissioner to be conducting and one which may back-fire. Many member states, especially those who have been vocal in their support for a rise in intervention prices but also face an increase in milk output at the beginning of 2016, will I believe be calling for intervention by Christmas of this year, particularly if global markets are not returning a profit at the farm gate. Whether the Commission will move or not is another question but it will be extremely difficult for the Commissioner to be as resolute in his opposition to intervention.

“The problem will also be exacerbated by fact the Commission has invested €500m of money which was not new money but money collected via super levy fines. If the Commissioner is to introduce any new scheme, funding will be an issue and one possibility is by using the crisis fund mechanism. This mechanism can be extremely unfair - for example money is top sliced off all direct payments and can be awarded to one particular sector which is facing a particular difficulty. This is a very decisive mechanism and one which I would not support.

“This is extremely frustrating given that the Commission has in my view wasted money on targeted aid which will be meaningless to many farmers unlike the proven benefits we have witnessed from the adequate use of intervention.”