Last year, Ireland’s export values for dairy products and ingredients exceeded €3 billion for the first time ever. With the lifting of the milk quota next year the Irish agri food sector, and Ireland’s dairy farmers in particular, are poised to make significant further gains.

Commenting on a recent OECD-FAO report which has predicted that diary consumption is to rise in emerging economies like China and India by 2021, Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP, candidate for Ireland Midlands-North-West, stated that Irish dairy farmers will be well placed to capitalise on this increasing demand.

Mr Gallagher said today “China is a market of specific interest to Ireland, in particular following the recent announcement that 30 Irish dairy companies have been approved for export there by Chinese authorities.

However Mr Gallagher has cautioned that the threat of the super-levy is still at play for a further year.

“More needs to be done at EU level to ensure a soft landing for Irish dairy farmers and to allow them to work towards these market opportunities.  The European Commission needs to take a reasonable approach to the dairy sector as it is clear that a ‘one size fits all’ policy is not going to work.

“Given the potential ahead of the Irish dairy sector and the motivation of Irish farmers to work towards meeting increasing demand and the goals of Food Harvest 2020, a more practical approach is needed in Brussels.

Pat the Cope has also welcomed the recent establishment of the European Milk Market Observatory, which aims to inject more transparency into the market by means of disseminating market data and short-term analysis.

“Tools such as the Milk Market Observatory are useful for the sector, allowing farmers to take well-informed business decisions.  Given that quotas have been in place in the milk sector since 1984 we need to ensure a smooth transition and successful realisation of the opportunities for growth.

“We need to ensure that the new CAP works for Irish dairy farmers, facilitating on-farm investment and growth, without burdensome red tape whilst also securing Ireland’s place as a leading player on the world’s dairy market.”