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Smith to raise Dairy Market Situation at Agriculture Council

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, has arranged to have the critical dairy market situation discussed at the meeting of EU agriculture ministers on Thursday 23rd April.

Minister Smith said contact had again been made with the Commission and other member states in advance of this week's Council. "Dairy producers and processors are under extreme pressure due to low prices, and dairy farmers in Ireland are receiving a price for milk that is below their cost of production. It was important therefore, notwithstanding the measures already taken by the Commission, that the Council again addresses the issue" he said.

The Minister acknowledged the measures taken by the Commission so far, and said that he had two key demands when he met Commissioner Fisher Boel in Brussels last month and again at the March Council.  "At those meetings I pressed two priorities - the continued intervention of high volumes of butter at the intervention price and aggressive application of export refunds in order to move greater quantities permanently into export markets". 

Minister Smith said he was pleased that the Commission has continued to operate these schemes and stressed that it is important that they are maintained at viable levels.  The tendering process has now opened for skimmed milk powder and it is crucial that this operates at close to the intervention price.

The Minister said he will urge his ministerial colleagues to continue to keep the dairy market under review at Council until the situation improves.  "We should also consider any additional measures that could usefully be undertaken to support our producers during this difficult period. The Commission has a vital role in managing the market and must utilise all available instruments at its disposal", concluded Minister Smith.

Date Released: 21 April 2009