DUP MEP Diane Dodds has accused European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan of deflecting attention toward the responsibilities of farmers as he begins to feel the pressure of current challenges facing the industry at this time.
Commenting, Mrs Dodds said: “I believe it is official that the European Parliament has now finally awoken to the fact that agriculture across a range of sectors is hurting and that something must be done to help our farmers.
“This week alone I attended numerous events highlighting the crisis affecting the industry and only yesterday we had a debate in Parliament on the crisis facing the dairy sector in particular.
“It is quite clear that Commissioner Hogan is coming under more pressure, yet in relation to milk he is adamant that he has done all he can. He reiterates the claim that all the CAP tools at his disposal have been utilised. He also stresses that finding funds to deliver more will be extremely difficult given the pressures on the EU budget,specifically from immigration,” added Mrs Dodds.
“The Commissioner also highlighted the surge in milk supply and made the point that dairy farmers should take responsibility for the continuing increase in production which, given current conditions, is simply not sustainable. He then went on to reiterate the option of voluntary supply management,something which I believe can only succeed if employed on an EU-wide basis.
“In light of these comments, I must say that neither the Commissioner nor the Commission have taken responsibility for their actions toward creating and failing to resolve this market crisis.
“It is in fact Europe which has driven milk production by removing quota. This has allowed several Member States to dramatically increase their milk production - including our closest neighbour the Republic of Ireland. That is why I find it a bit rich of the Commissioner to accuse farmers of taking no responsibility. The Commissioner failed to react quickly enough to this current crisis.
“I believe he took the decision that the market should have corrected by now. Then Europe spent unwisely €500m on a fund which was verging on an insult to farmers.
“It is high time that the Commissioner and the Farm Council took responsibility for their brief and delivered real and tangible solutions for all sectors. This should start with immediate measures to address market volatility and the unfairness within the supply chain,” added Mrs Dodds.