UFU seek EU support for dairy sector

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union used a meeting on the dairy crisis by COPA, the umbrella body for European farm unions, to back calls for the European Commission to look again at support options for the dairy sector.

Speaking after the meeting dairy committee vice chairman, William Irvine, warned that with no immediate sign of recovery in milk prices the Commission needed to act quickly as the industry moves towards peak European production.

“The meeting looked at the possibility of scaling back production via producer organisations, but some members of COPA had doubts about how this would be financed and how effective such a move could be,” said Mr Irvine.

He added that a further negative was that there are no EU-defined producer organisations in Northern Ireland dairying, and only one in GB.

“Collectively it was agreed there are more effective ways milk production can be managed,” he said.

Members from within COPA backed an increase in dairy storage to 200,000 tonnes, following reports that SMP stores in Europe will hit the current 109,000 tonne limit before end of this month. Also discussed was the potential role of the European Investment Bank, in a financial package that would offer more flexible financial arrangements for dairy farms.