Nicholson discusses draft dairy report

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson discussed the draft version of the dairy report he is preparing with MEPs in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development this week.

Mr Nicholson outlined key aspects of the report: ‘Prospects for the EU dairy sector – Review of the implementation of the Dairy package”.

The report includes strengthening contractual relations between producers and processors, making the Milk Market Observatory (MMO) more user-friendly, reviewing the intervention rate, improving promotion to increase exports and tackling unfair trading practices.

Commenting after the debate Mr Nicholson said: “The exchange of views with fellow members of the Agriculture Committee this week was a useful opportunity to discuss the draft report and the situation in the dairy sector.

“The medium and long term prospects for the sector are good, the outcome of the latest Fonterra Global Dairy Trade auction which recorded an 8.8% decrease in the overall auction index does however remind us of the need to minimise the impact of price volatility. The abolition of milk quotas is the end of an era and we must use this opportunity to build a more confident and robust dairy sector for the future.”

The deadline for MEPs to submit amendments to the report is 30 March. Mr Nicholson urged MEPs to come forward with workable proposals to help ensure stability for dairy farmers in the post quota era adding: “This week’s discussion was positive and constructive, I am willing to work closely with the shadow rapporteurs and the Committee to produce the final report - it is however important that MEPs do not attempt to throw everything but the kitchen sink into it.

“This report provides MEPs with a useful platform to come forward with practical proposals to help ensure the dairy sector is better placed to respond to the challenges and opportunities it will face in the post quota era.

“It will then be up to the Commission and Council to decide whether they act upon our recommendations.”