Diane Dodds MEP has called on the European Commission to come up with new market support measures to underpin the dairy sector in Europe.
The call comes following the proposal from the EU Commission that they would only allow skim milk power to go into intervention in March 2018 following a tender system rather than the fixed price for intervention that has been in place up until now.
Mrs Dodds commented: “Over the last 10 years we have seen the EU remove all the historic support mechanisms that were in place to help support the dairy sector from large pricing variations. In the past a combination of milk quotas, export refunds and intervention storage allowed for markets within Europe to be kept in balance and prevent massive price variations.
“Over recent years we have seen the EU Commission remove many of the tools to help support milk prices. Over recent weeks we have seen the EU Commission propose that they will no longer guarantee the price at which they put skim milk powder into intervention after March 2018.
“I believe that this, along with the significant stocks of skim milk powder that the EU has already in storage, is leading to some weakening in dairy markets, not just in Europe but throughout the world. Over recent months we have seen a massive increase in milk fat prices, but prices received by farmers are being undermined by the price of the protein element of milk.
“It is vital that the EU comes up with new imaginative solutions that will help stabilise rather than undermine milk prices throughout Europe. It is vital that the Commission comes up with new proposals now rather than waiting to a downturn to look at new policies.”
Mrs Dodds has welcomed steps taken by local milk processors to launch schemes for dairy farmers that should help take some of the fluctuations out of milk prices.
She continued: “Over recent weeks we have seen a number of milk processors, who purchase milk from Northern Ireland dairy farmers, launch a fixed milk price scheme that will help remove some of the market volatility out of milk prices.
“Whilst I recognise that these schemes may not suit all farmers and are only available for a small percentage of the milk pool, it does show that local processors are looking for new tools to manage risk and remove volatility.
“Over time this could remove volatility in the dairy market.
“It is vital that the UK government look at new schemes to help manage risk and minimise market volatility when designing a new policy for UK farmers post Brexit.
“Over the coming months the DUP will continue to lobby both the EU and the UK government to introduce new schemes that helps underpin commodity prices from prevent market volatility.”