Following a meeting with dairy farmers, TUV leader Jim Allister, has said revising the intervention price is not just the obvious solution, but by doing so essential trader sentiment would be boosted, which is key to long term stability.
In a statement Mr Allister said, “This is no sham crisis, but one that cuts to the very heart of the future of our vital agri-food sector. It demands a concerted and meaningful response, particularly from Brussels. The Commissioner’s apparent resistance to revisiting the intervention price – last reviewed in 2003 – is shortsighted and adding to the crisis.
“Virtually every serious player in the global dairy market has some mechanism in place to provide a bottom to the market. In the USA their margin protection policy largely equates to intervention. Such is essential to ease the wild fluctuations of such a global market.
“A realistic intervention price would not just provide a viable bottom to the market but would be the catalyst for recovery as it would feed trader sentiment, which is so vital to market recovery. Thus, Commissioner Hogan needs to address this issue urgently and the UK representative on the Council of Ministers needs to drive this forward, supported by all the devolved institutions.
“The present crisis has been in the making for some time with the abolition of milk quotas -something I opposed as an MEP – contributing negatively. Locally, too, the processor-driven ‘Going for Growth’ strategy paid too little heed to the need to protect and support existing producers. If we lose what we’ve got it will make talk of growth rather hollow.
“There is another compelling political imperative as to why our government needs to act. A significant contributory factor to the EU’s present milk difficulties is the loss of the Russian market, which flowed from the geo-political decisions, taken at EU level. It was not dairy farmers who unleashed this scenario, but top level government and international decisions. Thus, government cannot stand back and leave our milk farmers to pay the price. The EU needs to face up to the consequences it helped create. Striking a realistic intervention price is the least it should do, remembering that on past experience such will not be a long term burden on taxpayers, because eventual and controlled release of the commodities onto an improved market is likely to reap a profit.
“It is time for Commissioner Hogan to act.”