Cowen: Minister must address the removal of price safety net for Offaly dairy farmers
Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen has said that Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed TD must urgently attend the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture to outline his backing for the removal of EU price supports to dairy farmers.
“My party colleagues and I are very concerned that the government have given a blank cheque to the European Commission’s proposal to effectively remove the floor price for skimmed milk powder (SMP)," he said.
“This move is contrary to existing EU policy. Since the CAP reforms under Agenda 2000, intervention has served to act as an effective floor price and eliminate the more extreme negative price fluctuations. This safety net has given certainty to dairy farmers in Offaly and removing it for any period of time is playing with fire."
“Our Agri-Spokespersons, Jackie Cahill and Charlie McConologue have written to the Chair of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine requesting Minister Creed urgently appear before members to explain his support for reducing the quota for intervention from 109,000 tonnes to zero," Cowen continued.
“At present, there is a large volume in intervention currently overhanging the market. However, our government has given a carte blanche to this Commission proposal to do away with this price support safety net.
“We have a number of questions on the degree of analysis and consultation with dairy stakeholders that went into this policy decision."
“The Government should be engaging with the Commission and other Member States around a long term plan to reduce the current volume of SMP in intervention. This includes examining the current rules and policy options about selling out of intervention e.g. selling to third countries."
“Offaly dairy farmers want answers from Minister Creed as to why he went along with these Commission proposals. This decision represents a major challenge for them into the future,” concluded Cowen.