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The EU opened Private Storage Aid schemes for Butter, SMP and Cheese on the 7th May, a move triggered in response to the severe market difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown measures imposed across Europe and the US.

In its first week in operation there was a strong demand for cheese PSA in a number of countries, with Ireland (2,180 t), Italy (12,654 t), the UK (4,499 t) and Sweden (792 t) all using their full national allocation in the first 2 days of the scheme alone. Other countries have however shown little interest from the outset, including those with large national allocations, such as Germany (allocated: 21,726 t, used: 1%) and France (allocated: 18,394 t, used: 18%). In total, of the 100,000 tonnes provided for, 38% has been taken up. The interest so far has demonstrated the unfair national allocations distributed to countries, with Ireland awarded just 2% of the volume available, despite producing 5% of the EU’s storable cheese. Given the clear demand for the scheme in certain countries and as we now enter the second half of its operation, ICOS is advocating that the European Commission re-allocate the remaining volume available in order to allow for its full utilisation and to provide support to the market where it is needed.

There has also been a substantial demand for butter PSA, largely coming from Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands, who have submitted as of the 24th May, 7,542 tonnes, 6,765 tonnes and 10,247 tonnes respectively. In total 31,034 tonnes have been submitted, of a potential 140,000 tonnes, allowing good room for Ireland to continue to make use of the scheme through to its end on 30th June.

However, interest in subsidised SMP storage is so far limited, with Germany (with 1,450 t) and Portugal (1,825 t) being amongst the few to take it up so far, with a total of 4 797 tonnes submitted as of 24th May, out of a potential 90,000 tonnes.

Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive