UFU in major EU-wide discussions on dairy and pig industries

Ulster Farmers' Union deputy president Ivor Ferguson and Chief Executive Wesley Aston have attended the COPA-COGECA presidium meeting in the Netherlands, with EU farm commissioner, Phil Hogan, addressing a number of key issues facing the agriculture industry at present.

Several meetings have also taken place with EU farming leaders discussing at length the difficulties being experienced on both dairy and pig farms across Europe.

Commenting on the pig market situation, deputy president Ivor Ferguson was encouraged that EU pig prices were beginning to improve despite product from the EU’s aids to private storage scheme starting to be released.

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For the dairy sector, Commissioner Hogan has confirmed that the EU Commission will be increasing the intervention tonnage for Skimmed Milk Powder to 350,000 tonnes to help address the difficulties facing the dairy sector.

“We are also aware that discussions are on-going within several member states, both at an industry and government level, on the possible use of Article 222 which permits the option of reducing milk production,” said Mr Ferguson.

On Monday, Germany announced such a package for its dairy farmers worth 100million Euro although the details of how the scheme will operate are still unclear.

“From the outset the UFU’s position has been that any voluntary reduction in production scheme would have to be operated EU-wide and with an assured programme of funding if it were to have any prospect of delivering a meaningful outcome and this is no different now,” stressed Mr Ferguson.

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The EU Agriculture Council has agreed earlier this week to hold an in depth discussion at its June meeting in Luxembourg on whether more needs to be done for the dairy industry in addition to evaluating the existing measures which have already been put in place.

“The dairy working party of COPA on which the UFU is represented by our dairy policy committee Chairman, William Irvine, will also hold a further meeting soon at which a key theme will be to deliver on EU–wide options to help address the present dairy crisis,” added Mr Ferguson.

The UFU says it is committed to working closely with its 12,000 members and will continue to participate in the COPA discussions to ensure the best possible measures are put in place to help address the crisis facing the dairy industry.