Minister Simon Coveney

THE Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney has announced that milk supplies to the end of December 2011, taking into account the relevant butterfat adjustment, were estimated at 0.08 per cent under quota.

This compares an end November position of 0.41 per cent over quota.

The Minister warned milk producers about the “very real threat of a milk super levy at the end of the 2011/2012 milk quota year, if milk production patterns were to mirror those in the final three months of last year.”

Notwithstanding an easing off since summer 2011, milk production levels continued to remain above quota up to the end of November.

However, due to the continued positive and responsible action taken by farmers and their co-operatives, production was just under quota at year-end.

While the corresponding figure for this time last year was 1.87 per cent under quota, an increase in production of 1.5 per cent over quota over the final three months left year-end production dangerously close to quota, at just 0.37 per cent under.

“A similar production pattern for the final three months of this year will inevitably lead to a super levy charge, and that this could have very serious financial consequences for affected farmers,” he said.

Minister Coveney acknowledged the frustrations of farmers wishing to expand their enterprises in preparation for the period post-2015 but said that it was clear, at this point, that a quota system would continue to operate until 2015, re-emphasising that any expansion needs to be synchronised with the gradual increase in quotas and their abolition in April 2015.

Against this background it remains critically important that individual operators continue to manage their enterprises within quota in the intervening period.