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Gildernew presses for Dairy Export Refunds

21 November, 2008


Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew, MP MLA, and Minister Arlene Foster, MLA, have jointly written to the UK Secretary of State for the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) to press for the re-introduction of export refunds for the dairy industry.

Both Ministers decided to take this proactive approach, prior to yesterday's EU Dairy Management Committee meeting.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle Gildernew, said:

"Following the October milk auction I immediately spoke to Hilary Benn about the seriousness of our situation. Then in a joint letter Arlene Foster and I pressed the case for the local dairy industry and made clear our view that Britain should be taking the initiative within the EU by requesting the early re-introduction of export refunds. I am very disappointed to learn that there was no movement on re-introducing export refunds at yesterday's EU Dairy Management Committee meeting.

"The dairy sector is one of the most important sectors of our agricultural industry. However it is more heavily reliant on the export of milk powders than Britain and so the collapse of confidence in world markets and returns for exports is having a disproportionate impact on local producers and processors compared to the situation in Britain.

"Prices at the November United Dairy Farmers' milk auction continue to demonstrate the downward pressure on producers. In view of this, Arlene Foster and I intend to make a joint approach to Commissioner Fischer Boel to discuss the issue of export refunds. It is vital that our circumstances are taken fully into account."

Note to Editors

The dairy industry is an important part of the local economy, with over £690 million of sales annually and employing over 2,000 people.

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