Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson and the ECR Group in the European Parliament hosted a successful event in Brussels this week which examined ways of using financial and risk management tools to manage price volatility in the dairy sector.
The hearing, entitled; ‘Future-proofing the dairy sector – what do financial and risk tools mean for farmers?’ featured contributions from a range of speakers, including Dr Mike Johnston; Chief Executive of the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland, Sean Molloy; Glanbia’s Head of Strategy, Tom Tynan; a member of Commissioner Hogan’s cabinet plus Albert Dess MEP and Jan Huitema MEP from the Agriculture Committee.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Nicholson said: “Price volatility is the greatest challenge facing the dairy sector. Price spikes make it difficult for farmers to plan and it is in all our interests to explore, identify and implement innovative ways of managing price volatility in the future.
“This week’s hearing brought together key industry leaders, officials and academics in this field of study to present and discuss the potential for the dairy industry to mitigate large fluctuations in milk prices with financial tools.
“It was particularly useful to learn more about the US dairy futures markets and it was also made clear during the debate that the industry in the EU needs to have better access to market information – this was a recommendation in my recent dairy report. The industry in the EU must therefore fully consider the use of financial and risk management tools to ensure it does not fall behind competitors. The European Commission must also ensure that the Milk Market Observatory is improved so that more accurate and timely information is available in the future.”
The event generated a lot of interest. MEPs and the UK Farming Unions’ Brussels representatives were amongst the large numbers in attendance.
Mr Nicholson continued: “Given that the formation of a new group which will investigate the use of financial and risk instruments was part of the agricultural aid package announced by the European Commission last month this was a very timely debate.
“I believe that this hearing has provided a lot of useful information which the Commission’s new group can utilise as it considers the use of financial instruments to manage volatility and I want to thank all those who participated and contributed.”