Speaking last week from Brussels where he is leading the IFA delegation attending the EU Commission Conference on Dairy post-2015, IFA National Dairy Committee Vice Chairman Sean O’Leary said he would look for the EU Commission to focus their policy on volatility management and market support tools to help farmers, along with speedy intervention.
He said private storage aid, export refunds and intervention had all proven their worth in the 2009 crisis, and together with new volatility management tools, they should be refined and enhanced. He said the debate at the Conference should waste no time on discredited supply management proposals such as that being promoted by MEP Michel Dantin, which can only deny European farmers their opportunity to supply growing global markets.
“The Ernst and Young experts reporting today at the Conference clearly stated that milk quotas no longer play any role on EU markets, and that other suggested forms of supply management would be costly and ineffectual, as well as damaging for the international competitiveness of EU dairy farmers. Ernst and Young also do not believe there will be any “upheaval” in the post quota EU dairy sector, but rather a continuation in production trends and regional shifts which are already in train,” he added.
“Dr Michael Keane and Dr Declan O’Connor of UCC, in a report for the European Dairies Association, stress that the Michel Dantin proposal can only work in a closed economy or in a scenario where all major international suppliers adopt the same policy – this is clearly not likely. Again this is a reality which IFA has been pointing out for the last few years, and the EU should not waste any time devising ineffectual future policies,” he said.
“Ernst and Young focus the bulk of their recommendations on the issues of risk, volatility, and market supports, and on taking steps over and above the Milk Package to strengthen the hands of milk producers in the food chain. They also stress the need to make full use of existing or even enhanced market supports, and to devise new tools to help farmers cope with income variations,” he said.
“This makes perfect sense to us. The EU dairy policy debate must focus on ways to help farmers manage the impact of inevitable global volatility on their livelihoods, while maximising their ability to compete for fast growing world market opportunities,” he concluded.