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Gildernew welcomes re-introduction of export refunds

16 January, 2009

Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has welcomed the intention of the European Commission to re-introduce export refunds for the dairy industry.

The European Commission's decision applies to butter, cheese and milk powders from next week as part of a plan to support the dairy sector following the recent slump in prices for milk and dairy products.

The Commission also indicated that when intervention opens it recognises that support will be needed beyond the first 30,000 tonnes of butter and 109,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder.

Discussing the re-introduction of export refunds, the Minister said: "Today's decision by the Commission is a common sense move which will benefit the dairy industry across Europe. It is particularly good news for our dairy farmers and will help safeguard their future during the current economic downturn.

"My Executive colleagues and I have been lobbying DEFRA Minister Hilary Benn on a number of fronts in recent months to pressurise the EU on this issue and today's announcement presents a welcome result for our efforts.

"Since the sharp fall in milk prices at the November United Dairy Farmers auction I have been working tirelessly to achieve a re-introduction of export refunds. It is also comforting that Commissioner Fischer-Boel has recognised the gravity of the situation across the dairy industry and asked her services to act. I hope this decision will offer our industry some security in the midst of current trading conditions and help rebuild confidence in the local sector."

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