Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Horticulture Seamus Kirk has repeated his calls for a bil-lateral agreement on milk quotas with the UK. Deputy Kirk raised a special Dáil debate on the matter this week (Tuesday, 07 March) as the end of the quota period approaches.
Questioning the Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Kirk said: “The end of the month, 31 March, is looming for many hard working, progressive dairy farmers throughout the country. Unfortunately, they are looking at a hefty milk quota super levy bill is also because of the inflexible position within the industry.
“The milk quota regime is due to be phased out between now and 2015. The minor transitional arrangement in place is clearly inadequate. Dairy farmers who are in the process of expanding their operations now find that they have to tailor production to meet the strict milk quota limits. At a time when the industry is reasonably buoyant, with the potential to help our export statistics, dairy farmers find themselves seriously constrained by the prospect of a penal super-levy bill.”
Deputy Kirk expressed deep disappointment that the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has made no progress on a bilateral arrangement with the UK, particularly in light of the ambitious diary targets set out in the Harvest 2020 strategy, published by the previous Government.
“This issue has been raised in the Dáil several times over the past 12 months,” said Deputy Kirk. “Now that we are well into the month of March and coming to the end of the market season, I am calling on the Minister to make a concerted effort to get agreement from the European Commission, even for just a year, to an arrangement under which unused quota in the North of Ireland would be made available to help our hard-pressed farmers who are on the edge as far as production is concerned. There is no logical reason we cannot have a bilateral arrangement with the United Kingdom.”
“At a time when the economy could benefit from a lift in primary production such as in the dairy sector, this seems an obvious area in which to introduce an initiative. It could help the economy, dairy farmers and the industry in general,”