Hogan’s optimism out of step with reality: Dodds

Friday 27 March 2015 - Ulster Farmers' Union dinner at the Canal Court Hotel, Newry. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Friday 27 March 2015 - Ulster Farmers' Union dinner at the Canal Court Hotel, Newry. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has commented on the latest Global Dairy Trade auction results and the need for profitable milk prices to harness future opportunities.

Mrs Dodds said the abolition of milk quotas brings new opportunities for many Member States across Europe to increase milk production.

She also highlighted the message from EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan during his visit to the province - the future is bright for milk production, and that Europe was well placed to deliver milk supply to the rest of the world.

Mrs Dodds said: “In relation to milk prices he remained optimistic and stated that he was exploring measures like strengthening the role of the EU Milk Market Observatory to provide more meaningful market positions to farmers to guard against volatility.

“Against the backdrop of the Commissioner’s positivity, this week has also brought a Global Dairy Trade auction result that reiterates the volatility in the market and once again highlights the need for action from the Commission and the dairy industry in general.

“This week’s GDT auction saw a reduction of over 10.8% on top of a reduction of 8.8% at the previous auction – a total of nearly 20%.

“While the Commissioner may hail the end of quotas as a new era for the dairy industry, if farmers do not have a sustainable profit margin we will not have to worry about quota being the restricting factor in milk production.

“Many farmers across Northern Ireland are currently producing milk below the cost of production. If this continues I have no doubt more farmers will be forced to exit the industry, something which I certainly do not want to happen.

“While I respect the fact that European exports have increased significantly over the past five years and global demand is projected to grow annually by 2.1%, the question must be asked if now is the right time to turn on the milk taps of Europe and potentially flood the market with milk?

“The Commissioner has stated the removal of quotas is a shifting toward a more market-oriented agriculture, but I feel that neither the dairy industry across Europe and especially the Commission are prepared for such a market place in terms of managing sustainable growth and dealing with volatility.”