Ad hoc approach to dairy crisis is not working - Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan is dealing with the ongoing dairy crisis on an ad hoc basis and is failing to recognise the deteriorating nature of a sector in trouble.
A member of the Agriculture Committee in the European Parliament, Carthy said,
“Last week the Commission announced that it was looking at increasing the ceiling for buying-in of skimmed milk powder to 350,000 tonnes, which is more than triple the initial offering, just five months into this year. The Commission had not envisaged reaching this ceiling until 20th September 2016.
“This figure stands in stark contrast to the mere 40,000tn that was offered into EU intervention for the entire year of 2015. We are a million miles away from the pronouncements in advance of the abolition of quotas when the commission, the Irish government, banks and processors were predicting sustained growth for the sector and encouraging farmers to invest heavily on that basis. It is those farmers who took that advice who are now in the deepest trouble.
“The Commission continuously refers to a number of ‘temporary’ measures being used to alleviate this crisis, however, when I asked what indicators were being used to determine when those measures would lapse, or what conditions would have to be present for them to be extended, the Commission has completely failed to answer.
“This shows a Commissioner attempting to deal with the crisis on an ad hoc basis, effectively hoping that the situation will resolve itself with the passing of the summer season.
The Midlands North West MEP added,
“In addition, the Commissioner is refusing to cooperate to find a solution to the postponement of the superlevy fine for 2016. The payment of these fines is causing serious cash flow issues for dairy farmers already struggling to make ends meet.
“Despite Ireland recently calling for the postponement of the superlevy fine for 2016 and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reporting that the average superlevy fine still outstanding is in the range of €10,000 per dairy farm, Commissioner Hogan provides a pitiful excuse that as the legal basis for the regulations underpinning the scheme are no longer in existence, it is not possible to implement this suspension.
“Both of these scenarios show the complete inadequacy of the Commissioner's response thus far to a crisis that shows no signs of improvement, as well as unwillingness to acknowledge the depth of the problem.”