Written Answers - Milk Quota.

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 622 No. 122

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  54.  Ms McManus  Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus   asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food  Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan   the steps she will take to ensure, that the views of a recent Europe-wide study published by the European Association of Agricultural Economists, that in the absence of milk quotas Irish milk output would soar by 40 per cent; her views on the outcome of this study; her further views of the likely difference in milk output if milk quotas were withdrawn; her further views on the opinion that even if such a study’s outcome is unlikely, in view of the fact that milk quotas are not likely to be abolished in the near future, the projected outcome reflects badly on the progress of diversification in agriculture here; [795]and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24616/06]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mary Coughlan): Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I am aware of the study to which the Deputy refers.

The Milk Quota System was introduced in 1984 to control the over-supply of milk in the EU, and the Mid Term Reform of the CAP has ensured its continuation until 2014/15. However, this reform is due to be reviewed in 2008. The fact is that the Milk Quota System exists and will continue to exist at least for some years yet.

My role, as Minister for Agriculture and Food, is to ensure that the areas within my scope of influence operate in a manner that enables our agriculture generally, and in this case the dairy sector, to remain competitive and thereby continue to develop and support farmers’ incomes. It is clear, in the light of the Prospectus Report on the dairy sector and the Mid Term Review CAP reform decisions, that increased scale at producer level is needed to achieve competitiveness in the dairy sector and to maintain producer incomes.

In March I announced my intention to move to a more open market system for transferring milk quotas, which will come into effect on 1st April 2007. I made this decision because the current restructuring model will not meet the future needs of the industry and a more effective response is required in order to meet future competitive pressures. This is crucial given the growing competition faced by the sector both internally in the EU and on international markets. These competitive pressures will increase as we move towards the conclusion of a new WTO agreement. I want to ensure that the Irish dairy sector is well prepared for these challenges while also having the capacity to secure its share of global growth in demand for dairy products.

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