EU agriculture ministers told of Irish worries on dairy prices

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed calls for changes to super levy payments scheme

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed: Called for the European Commission to allow the deferral of super-levy liability payments by farmers. Photograph: The Irish Times

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed: Called for the European Commission to allow the deferral of super-levy liability payments by farmers. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has called for measures to address the crisis in the dairy sector at meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels.

With dairy markets contacting across Europe, the fall in prices dominated Tuesday’s meeting.

Mr Creed, attending his first meeting of EU agriculture ministers since his appointment, called for the European Commission to allow the deferral of super-levy liability payments by farmers. The Super Levy Payment scheme allows for farmers to pay their final super levy fine – penalties imposed on farmers for producing above quota – over three years and on an interest-free basis.

Mr Creed said that this should be extended to five years, as initially requested by Ireland. He said he also called for an increase in aid for the private storage of skimmed milk powder.

Ministers also discussed the issue of agricultural emissions and climate change targets – a key issue for countries like Ireland and Denmark who are in danger of breaching EU targets by 2020.

Burden sharing

With Ireland under pressure from Brussels to tackle its high emission rates, the issue dominated discussions between EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Dublin last Friday where he met Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Creed.

Mr Creed said that while Ireland would “carry its fair share of the burden in respect of the targets that have been set”, the commission needs to take account of previous commitments by the European Council on agriculture and land use.

Noting that Ireland had already reduced its emissions by 7 per cent since 1990, Mr Creed said afforestation needed to be acknowledged by the commission as a way of offsetting agricultural emissions.

“There is a need to acknowledge afforestation . . . and we are committed to a multibillion euro additional forestry over the years ahead. The question is if that is not acknowledged, then why should we continue with that? Our argument is that we should and the commission should acknowledge that.”