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EU Farm Ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday, 14th March to discuss the ongoing crisis in global dairy markets. In advance of next week’s meeting, the European Commission called on Member States to submit proposals, which will help improve the market situation within the existing budgetary and legal framework. The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney held a second Dairy Forum meeting on 9th March in Dublin. The first meeting was held on 29th September 2015. At the Dairy Forum, the Minister outlined his strategy ahead of Monday’s meeting, which includes the following measures submitted by the Government to the European Commission:

  1. Further revision and flexibility under the existing Private Storage Aid Schemes. For SMP there are now two schemes, one lasting for 90-210 days and an enhanced scheme lasting for 365 days, with a minimum of 270 days to respect terms of contract. The Government wishes to reduce the number of minimum storage days under the enhanced scheme and to remove the 10% penalty for product withdrawn from storage before the maximum of 365 days. The Government also wants any unused allocations under the cheese PSA to be redistributed to other Member States as quickly as possible.
  2. Ireland is calling on the Commission to once again review the intervention reference thresholds under Article 7.2 of the CMO regulation. In addition, the Government wants the quantitative limits set for SMP into intervention to increase from 109,000t to 200,000t. This is a more achievable outcome considering the Commission’s firm position against the raising of the intervention price.
  3. The Government favours the deferral of the collection of superlevy repayments under the three year instalment scheme by one year.
  4. The Government wants Member States to have more flexibility to help farmers at national level by increasing the de-minimis aid level to €20,000 over 3 years. This would be a welcome development, which would facilitate the introduction of innovative agri-taxation measures such as the ICOS “5-5-5” proposal. Other Member States such as Germany would like to see the de-minimis level increase to €30,000. Moreover, the Government would also like to amend the Block Exemption Regulation to make provision for specific measures to deal with volatility.
  5. In addition, the Government wants a review of the EU tariff regime related to the fertilizer sector following the publication of the IFPRI report.
  6. Longer term, the Government would like to see a strengthened EMMO as a basis for a European futures market and the greater use of financial instruments such as the European Investment Bank.

By Eamonn Farrell

ICOS Agri & Food Policy Executive