Caution urged on dairy package

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union has stressed that while a European dairy package could offer short term support, it will not improve the critical situation facing local farmers or include the support measures needed to re-balance markets.

In response to confirmation that the farm commissioner, Phil Hogan, will propose a dairy support package on 18 July, UFU deputy president, Ivor Ferguson, cautioned against false hopes amongst hard pressed dairy farmers.

At a recent meeting of COPA-COGECA, the umbrella organisation for the main EU farm lobby groups and cooperatives, attended by the UFU, action to tackle the Russian import ban, a plan to boost national and export demand, new tools to tackle volatility and moves to reduce the impact of unfair trading practices were the main priorities.

“It also wants to see new funding for dairy support, with member states deciding how this would be spent but recognised realistically that funding from Brussels would likely be modest, because of budget pressures in the CAP and wider EU budgets,” said Mr Ferguson.

Mr Ferguson added there was no support for a return to supply management controls although it was considered that any possible funding provided could be linked to supply reductions.

The UFU believes it is vital the Commission manages the release of existing intervention stocks back onto a fragile market and that Phil Hogan presents a package in July that can be implemented quickly and effectively.

“We do not want to pour cold water on a new dairy package – but we are trying to be realistic about the practical impact of what is likely to emerge in Brussels,” said the UFU deputy president.

Meanwhile new rules increasing the public intervention ceiling for Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP) from 218,000 tonnes to 350,000 tonnes came into force earlier this week.