Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Agriculture & Food Éamon Ó Cuív TD says some 17,000 Irish dairy farmers face huge opportunities as well as some challenges in the new post quotas world. The restrictions which have been in place for more than 30 years have been lifted today, allowing Irish dairy farmers increase their milk production.
Deputy Ó Cuiv said, “Irish dairy farmers have been looking forward to this day for a long time. The abolition of EU milk quotas offers the Irish dairy industry immense opportunities, with a significant potential for increased milk production.
“It was under my party colleague Brendan Smith as the then Minister, who agreed on a pathway to abolish milk quotas at a Council of Ministers Health Check meeting in 2008. In addition, Ireland secured an increased national milk quota by more than seven per cent in the 2008-2014 period.
“Food Harvest 2020 initiated under Fianna Fáil and being implemented by the current government provides a medium-term vision and strategy to increase dairy output and increase jobs in the industry towards 2020. It is vital that the government keep to Food Harvest 2020 targets and grow milk output by 50% over this decade as well as increasing employment in the industry.
“While the Irish dairy industry has strengths with our grass based system, we have relatively low input costs and a production method that is attractive to worldwide consumers. With world population set to be at least 9 billion by 2050, along with increased 3rd country market milk demand, Irish dairy can expand its production to meet this huge opportunity.
“However challenges remain. Recent market price volatility is a pressing issue affecting dairy farmers. This is making it very difficult to maintain decent levels of profitability for farmers. The government must examine fixed priced contracts to give dairy farmers predictability and consistently to budget their cash flows.
“Combined with this, farmers in the short term face a massive fine in the region of €180m for the land parcel identification system (LPIS) as well as the milk superlevy of up to €75 million. Despite calls from across the farming sector to make greater efforts to do so, the Minister has displayed a complete inability to negotiate a better deal. The Irish dairy sector is now 5.07% over-quota, leaving farmers facing onerous fines”.