MEPs debate future of dairy post quota

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During a hearing in the European Parliament, MEPs agreed that the EU must do more to help milk farmers adapt to the realities of the market once milk quotas were abolished at the end of March.

At the event, hosted by the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, MEPs considered evidence from dairy farmers across Europe.

The meeting heard from both Mansel Raymond, chairman of the Copa-Cogeca working party on milk, and Duncan Maughan, a farmer from Cumrew in Carlisle.

Mr Raymond told the hearing that the intervention price ought to be raised “to take account of market realities and to avoid a collapse of the market.”

He also called on policy-makers to help identify new markets for milk products by removing trade barriers and boosting export promotion. He added that futures markets ought to be developed for dairy so as to remove the risk inherent in the sector.

Jim Nicholson MEP, (Northern Ireland, Ulster Unionist) who is writing a report into the future of the dairy sector, told the hearing: “Whether one agrees or disagrees with disappearance of quotas, the decision was made many years ago and we will now have to implement this and live with it.”

CAP implementation problems high on the agenda

Gail Soutar, NFU Chief Economics and International Affairs Adviser, was elected vice chairperson of the Copa group on CAP direct payments and greening last week.

This is a new group established to try to better understand CAP implementation issues across the EU. It was clear that each member state faces its own challenges understanding the new rules and that there is concern amongst farmers about how they will be properly implemented.

As a result Copa, the European farming union, intend to press the commission hard in 2015 to ensure that farmers are given time to adapt and granted greater tolerance in implementing the new rules in the first years of reform.

The chairman of the group insisted that ‘the risk of unintentional errors during the first years of implementing the CAP will be high’.

As it is already too late to provide greater clarity on the rules, there must be a certain amount of tolerance in the first years vis a vis cuts in greening payments’.

Many around the table were also dubious about the genuine results that Commissioner Hogan’s CAP simplification exercise could deliver and were concerned that it would become a paper exercise delivering little real benefit for members.

Russia hesitates on

partial lifting of EU

mport ban

It was widely reported last week that positive moves had been made to partially lift the trade restrictions imposed by Russia on certain EU agricultural products.

Information from the Commission was unclear and it soon became obvious that there was rising concern in some member states that the negotiations were allowed to continue on a bilateral basis.

At a meeting of the Agriculture Council last week this was condemned by the Polish agriculture minister and others who appealed for Europe to show solidarity and press ahead with an EU approach rather than one-off deals for particular member states.

This confusion has led to the Russians pulling back on initial plans to start inspections of pork units in countries such as Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Germany.

In comments to journalists, the head of Russia’s food safety agency said that efforts were being made to remedy the situation from their side but “if our European colleagues find our solution is unacceptable, we will not take the initiative.”