Question 39: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is concerned that Ireland could be over quota in the new 2011-2012 milk quota year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [Ref:12582/11]
Oral Response by Minister Simon Coveney (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food) Wednesday, 25th May, 2011.
I am of course concerned that Ireland could be over quota in the 2011/2012 milk quota year. Favourable market and weather conditions during the 2010/2011 milk quota year contributed to a dramatic increase in milk production, which resulted in a remarkable turnaround from a position where the country was 10 per cent under quota at the end of the 2009/2010 milk quota year. Increased heifer retention is also a significant factor in what is expected to be a further increase in milk production in 2011/2012, and in subsequent years. Indeed, estimated delivery figures for April 2011 point to an 18 per cent increase over April 2010, and a projected national position of 8.67% over quota.
In such circumstances, it is appropriate to again remind all dairy farmers of the need to carefully plan their production activities and to pay close attention to the limitations imposed by the quota regime if they are to avoid potentially very damaging super levy fines. Even allowing for a further increase of one per cent in the national quota since 1 April 2011, recent delivery trends, if repeated, will put the country in serious danger of going over quota. It is therefore incumbent upon every milk producer to exercise the necessary caution and to seek advice from, for example, Teagasc on the most sensible approach to be taken in managing their enterprises as they enter a crucial phase of the preparations for quota abolition in 2015.
For my part, I intend to continue my efforts to raise the issue of the soft landing at every opportunity with Member State colleagues and with the Commission. The latter has resisted attempts to revisit this matter, and there is, in any event, no guarantee that a majority of Member States will support calls for a more flexible milk quota regime. Therefore Irish dairy farmers must continue to operate on the assumption that no further changes will be made to the quota arrangements agreed in the context of the CAP Health Check.