Written answers

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Department of Agriculture and Food

Dairy Sector

5:00 pm

Photo of John CreganJohn Cregan (Limerick West, Fianna Fail)
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Question 62: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the high level group, established by the EU Agriculture Commissioner, to report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43440/09]

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Minister, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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At the special Council of Ministers meeting on the 5th of October my colleagues and I had a thorough discussion on the need for measures to manage the dairy market in the period up to and beyond quota abolition in 2015. At that meeting it was agreed to set up a High Level Group of Member States, chaired by the EU Commission's Agriculture Director General, to examine the type of arrangements to be put in place.

The Commission High level Group will examine medium term and long term ways of stabilising dairy farmer's incomes and improving market transparency. The Group is tasked with delivering a comprehensive report by June 2010, and it is due to meet about eight further times before then, having already met twice. It will examine means through which contractual arrangements in the supply chain can contribute to the highest possible returns for producers. This would give them more bargaining power in the process and provide a buffer against extremes of market volatility such as those that are being experienced at present. The Group will also examine existing market instruments and consider what other means, including a dairy futures market, could contribute to the objective of price stability in the longer term.

I established a Consultative Group so that I could hear the views of the experts here on issues emerging at the High Level Group. In particular the ideas, knowledge and expert opinion of the Irish dairy sector will provide key perspectives on how the sector needs to be developed and supported into the future. The consultative group is representative of the broad dairy sector in Ireland and all the main stakeholder organisations are participating in it. The first meeting of the Consultative Group took place on the 2nd of November and was chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. I intend the group to meet regularly and it will follow the progress of the Commission High Level Group, and I look forward to receiving constructive input from them.

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