EU support package revealed

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EU farm ministers, who were meeting in Luxembourg for their informal farm council, agreed the details of the aid package recently agreed by the European Commission.

This brought confirmation that the UK will receive a share worth 36.1 million euro.

The farm commissioner Phil Hogan also provided details of the enhanced Private Storage Aid scheme for skim milk powder (SMP), cheese and pigmeat. More detail on other export market support measures also emerged. He said the difficulties being experienced across the EU differ between member states and claimed the package was designed to respond to those different challenges.

However, Ulster Farmers’ Union president, Ian Marshall says that the 36.1 million euro allocated to the UK will not solve the crisis facing agriculture and falls far short of what is needed to help farm families through the difficult autumn and winter of 2015.

Included in the commissioner’s speech were further details of the flexibility available to member states to allow them to make early payment, from October 16, of up to 70 per cent of direct support under the CAP. Around 80 per cent of the ‘targeted aid’ worth 36.1 million euro to the UK, will be allocated on the basis of member states’ milk quotas in the last marketing year (2014/2015).

The remaining 20 per cent will take into account the fall in pigmeat prices, the ongoing impact of the Russian ban and this summer’s drought.

Despite the positive spin put on the package by the farm commissioner the UFU says it is ‘largely meaningless’ in terms of addressing market volatility and the short term problems facing the industry.

It is also disappointed that enhanced dairy intervention, even on a temporary basis, was not mentioned, since this has the potential to put a realistic floor into the market.

Discussions are taking place with DARD about to how best to maximise the Northern Ireland share, and how this very limited pot of funds can best be allocated here.