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Smith welcomes extension of Dairy Market Supports

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD welcomed the decision of the Milk Management Committee meeting yesterday in Brussels to extend the private storage aid scheme for butter from 15th August, when the scheme would normally close, until 28th February 2010.  The scheme was introduced in January this year, two months ahead of schedule because of the difficult market situation.  The Minister also welcomed the publication of Commission proposals aimed at extending public intervention for butter and skimmed milk powder and he will travel to Brussels on Monday to press the Council to support these measures.

Speaking ahead of that meeting, Minister Smith said: "the effect of these measures is such that both public and private storage arrangements will remain in place continuously until August 2010.  Even then, should the market situation warrant it, public intervention will remain open until August 2011". The Minister said that these strong signals from the Community reflected the view at high political level of the continued importance of the dairy sector to the EU and its willingness to provide as much support as possible to address the current volatile international dairy market situation.

Minister Smith has been at the forefront in pressing the Commission to activate the full range of market supports and has remained in constant touch with the Commissioner since last November when the APS scheme for butter was first announced.  Since then significant progress has been made in utilising the full range of supports.  These have assisted in stabilising the market though the Minister made clear his view that resolving difficulties on the demand side was the key to improving returns to farmers and processors.  "I will continue to ensure that the Community market measures play a full role in helping to restore the market to balance and I believe that these new measures should further assist in bringing that situation about".

The Minister pressed very hard during last year's Health Check negotiations for the retention of the market measures that are so crucial now in maintaining balance in the internal market.  Concluding, the Minister said: "While I accept that prices remain at an unacceptably low level I will again take the opportunity to mobilise colleagues in the Council of Ministers for their continued support in favour of actions in the dairy market.  Such action is absolutely essential to support the Dairy Sector through a difficult period.  I will continue to highlight the need to use in the most effective way possible all Market Management measures".

The Minister will also have a separate meeting with Commissioner Fischer Boel.

Date Released: 10 July 2009