Irwin cautious as milk quota system ends

DUP MLA Willaim Irwin
DUP MLA Willaim Irwin

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and Chairman of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee William Irwin MLA has said the ending of milk quota will cause “some anxiety” for dairy producers locally.

He made the comments as milk quotas were abolished within the European Union. Mr Irwin, pictured, said the challenges were significant going forward.

“I have been involved in dairy production for many years and the ending of quota is certainly a significant event in terms of milk production for Northern Ireland and across Europe.

“Milk quotas over the years have undoubtedly created some stability and a production benchmark for dairy farmers in Northern Ireland and obviously with the end of quota and a signal from other EU member states of a desire to ramp up milk production, there is certainly some anxiety in the dairy sector locally that the European markets could see a further oversupply and of course the unknown of where milk prices may go.

“Whilst quota has now ended, I believe there is a case for a degree of management of production and a responsible and collective attitude across all member states to prevent over supply.

“Having met the Commissioner Phil Hogan last week these were the types of concerns I put to him and these are matters that are being raised with me from within the dairy sector locally. Volatility in pricing has been a huge issue of late for the Northern Ireland dairy industry and whilst there is confidence that China and other international outlets will absorb further production post end of quota, I do have my concerns in the immediate term.”

He concluded: “We had some tentative recovery earlier in 2015 however that modest improvement was hit at the recent auction and with quota now ended, we must redouble efforts at creating new markets for our produce here in Northern Ireland and ensure that our industry is made less susceptible to price volatility.”