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Smith calls again for further action on Dairy Prices

Mr. Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has again urged the European Commission to increase dairy intervention prices, and called for an increase in the scope and level of export refunds.

Minister Smith said that he had written to Commissioner Fisher Boel, most recently at the end of July, calling for these measures to be taken urgently to manage the current downturn in milk prices.  He also urged the Commissioner to develop a medium term strategy to enable the sector to manage the transition to a post-quota era and to deal with the effects of market volatility.  "Other EU agriculture ministers have written in similar terms to the Commissioner recently. I intend to ensure that this pressure for stronger action continues and yields real results. Since last November, I have consistently urged the Commission to use in the most effective way possible, all market support measures" the Minister said.  He noted that agriculture Ministers will again have an opportunity to address the problems in the dairy sector at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers on 7 September.

The Minister also called for those in the agri-food sector to engage with the consultation process recently announced by the Tánaiste on a code of practice for the grocery sector.  He drew attention to the increased pressure on farmer and processor prices arising from the increasing negotiating power of the big retail chains, and to the huge gap in prices paid to farmers and those charged to consumers for some products.

"Obviously, I am in favour of ensuring that the consumer gets a good deal, with reasonable prices for high-quality and safe food.  But I also believe we have an obligation to our farmers and processors to ensure that a fair balance is struck between value for the consumer and a fair return for producers and suppliers", the Minister said.

Date Released: 18 August 2009