“Time to step up to the plate for Irish Dairy farmers” - Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West and member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Matt Carthy, has called on Minister Simon Coveney to ensure that greater supports for Irish Dairy Farmers are put in place. Carthy made his call as Farmers protest in Dublin today ahead of a demonstration in Brussels next week. Carthy welcomed the Ministers recent support for an increase in the intervention price explaining that Sinn Féin had been demanding such well in advance of the abolition of quotas in April.
“Since my appointment to the Agriculture & Rural Development committee I had demanded increased safety nets for Dairy farmers especially in the run-up to the abolition of quotas. These calls fell on deaf ears as Minister Coveney and others encouraged farmers to invest huge sums of money in the promise of profit and market expansion. This was despite the fact that every independent observer of Dairy markets warned of drastic price fluctuations.
“While it is now welcome that Minister Coveney and his European counterparts acknowledge the difficulties facing dairy farmers as a result, in part, of the abolition of milk quotas, more needs to be done practically to provide real supports to farmers as they struggle to adjust.
“Teagasc reports outline that the cost of production of a litre of milk is 25c per litre and therefore the current intervention price of 21c per is insufficient.
“Minister Coveney has belatedly called for an increase in intervention price to 25c per litre, a measure I proposed in the EP Agriculture Committee’s Milk Package Report in March but which was rejected by MEP’s including from Fine Gael’s EPP group.
“From the responses to written questions I put to Commissioner Hogan, it is quite clear that the Commission is not willing to intervene with regard to prices and ignoring the impact that price volatility has on producers, many of whom are under severe pressure to remain in the sector.
“Ministers, alongside the Commission, now need to step up to the plate, after years of encouraging farmers into the sector and massive expansion taken at great personal expense farmers must be given real supports”.
Carthy also called on Commissioner Hogan to respond positively to the suggested increase in intervention price at next Monday’s emergency meeting of Agriculture ministers in Brussels.
“Put plainly, Commissioner Hogan needs to put the survival of farmers ahead of the short term interests of markets and introduce an increase in intervention prices. Anything else at this stage would be irresponsible and would leave many farmers questioning their future in the sector.”