Commenting today on the Draft Report to the European Parliament on the prospects for the Dairy Sector and the review of the implementation of the Dairy Package, for which he has been appointed Shadow Rapporteur, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Constituency Matt Carthy has called for the protection of small dairy farmers as milk quotas end.
“This week the long standing dairy quota system ends. While this will obviously present opportuniities for Irish Agriculture, challenges are also already emerging. There are over 15,000 dairy farms in Ireland of varying sizes and capacity and it is becoming apparent that the rapid rate of expansion may have the effect of putting many smaller farmers under severe pressure.
“As Shadow Rapporteur on this European Parliament Report, I have consulted with many farmers and representative organisations in this sector and it is clear that many are concerned that there will be ongoing periods of extreme price volatility which will mean that their livelihoods become increasingly unsustainable.
“For this reason, it is my view that there needs to be an increase in the minimum intervention price and there needs to be a strengthening of contractual relationships between producers and retailers to provide certainty for farmers in this sector.
“I have recommended a number of amendments to this report, which seeks to ensure the viability and sustainability of small family farms. These were presented to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development today.
“I am hopeful that my Committee colleagues will support these measures and together we can take steps to mitigate the impact of dairy expansion on small farmers.”