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de Brún raises FWMS and support for dairy industry with European Commission

29 October, 2008 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún along with Irish MEPs Marian Harkin, Mairead McGuinness and Liam Aylward have met with senior officials from EU Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel's cabinet in Brussels this morning, Wednesday 29th October to discuss the Farm Waste Management Scheme. The MEPs raised concerns about the need for flexibility in the payments scheme regarding work to implement the nitrates directive.

Ms de Brún and the other MEPs also raised the need for greater support for dairy farmers given the disastrous drop in farmgate milk price.

Ms de Brún said:

"Along with other Irish MEPs I put forward the case today for flexibility on the 31 December deadline in the payment system for completion of work by farmers in respect of the Farm Waste Management Scheme. We stressed that this summer's weather was the worst on record. There have been a number of consequences for local farmers, not least the ability to spread slurry and getting the building works under the FWMS completed and also the issue of machinery getting bogged down on farmland.

"I stressed to the Commission that Michelle Gildernew as Minister has made great efforts to engage farmers and the construction industry on the need to get the work done on time. Farmers have also made genuine efforts, with every intention of meeting the deadline, but have run into genuine problems caused by the very severe weather this summer. I was glad to hear the Commission recognise the work that Michelle has done.

"The Commission officials undertook to bring back what we have said about payment for work to meet the nitrates directive to the Commissioner and have suggested that we keep in contact. They are very much aware of the difficulties farmers are facing and although they made clear that they could promise no solution, they know we are hoping for a pragmatic way forward. We will continue to press them on this issue. However, I would also stress the need for farmers to continue to do all in their power to meet the deadline in order to receive any payment towards that work.

"I also raised the very difficult situation facing our dairy farmers following the price per litre at last week's milk auction. I explained to the Commission that dairy farmers need help as prices at auction last week were down 7p on last month and significantly lower than the 32.39p per litre last October. This represents a collapse in the farmgate price. I explained that prices at this level mean that it is costing more to produce the milk than they are able to get at auction. Clearly this is not sustainable. This issue was raised at the end of the Agriculture Ministers Council in Luxembourg yesterday and is clearly an issue for countries elsewhere in Europe also. It is vital that we all work together to persuade the European Commission to respond positively." ENDS

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