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Minister Smith announces the establishment of a Dairy Consultative Group

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith TD today announced that he is establishing a consultative group to advise him on medium and long term measures for the dairy sector.

This announcement follows from last Monday's special meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels where there was a full discussion on the need for measures to manage the dairy market in the period up to quota abolition and beyond.  The Minister welcomed the proposal of the Commissioner to establish a High Level Group of representatives to consider a range of options for the future, now that it is accepted by Member States, that quotas will be phased out by 2015, a position that once and for all brings clarity around the issue of milk quotas.  The position of the French Minister for agriculture and others in accepting that quotas would end and in calling for an alternative regulatory framework was significant in bringing about this clarity.  The newly established High Level Group will address a range of issues in this context.

In specific terms, the High level Group will examine medium term and long term ways of stabililising dairy farmers incomes and improving market transparency. In its work towards delivering a comprehensive report by June 2010, the Group will examine means through which contractual arrangements in the supply chain can contribute to the highest possible returns for producers, giving them more bargaining power in the process and providing a buffer against extremes of market volatility such as those that are being experienced at present. It will also examine existing market instruments and consider what other means, including a dairy futures market, could contribute to the objective of price stability in the longer term.

As the first meeting of the High Level group will take place next Tuesday (13th October) Minister Smith said: "I was anxious to establish a Consultative Group so that I could hear the views of the experts here on issues emerging at the High Level Group and more particularly because the  ideas, knowledge and expert opinion of the Irish dairy sector will provide key perspectives on how the sector needs to be developed and supported into the future".

The Minister said that "the consultative group will be representative all the stakeholders and I  will be asking the IFA, ICMSA, ICSA, Macra na Feirme , ICOS, IDIA and IDB to nominate representatives. In addition, Teagasc and academic interest will be invited to participate and these invitations will be issued shortly".

Concluding, Minister Smith said that his Department would shortly convene the first meeting of the consultative group.  "I want to ensure that in preparing the Irish dairy sector for its longer term future, I have direct access to the broadest possible range of views, to assist me in that process" he said.

Date Released: 07 October 2009