Following the growing concern about the economic situation in the dairy and in the livestock sectors in certain Member States of the EU, the Luxembourg Presidency decided to convene an extraordinary Agriculture Council meeting on Monday, September 7, 2015, in Brussels.

The move comes following the European announcement of amended support measures for the dairy sector in light of the continuing downturn pressure impacting on world dairy markets and the impact of the Russian ban on EU food imports.

At the last meeting of the Council Irish Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney asked Commissioner Hogan to give serious consideration to an intervention price increase.

Milk prices paid to EU farmers have declined significantly since the second half of 2014 and beginning of this year.

The reduction in milk prices had showed signs of slowing down in February but in May, it decreased by 2.6% compared to April.

The EU average milk price, at €30.48/100 kg in May, was 19% below the previous year.

There are significant differences between Member States, the strongest decreases compared to last year, can be observed in the Baltic countries, where the milk price is below €25/100kg.

By contrast, there are other countries where the reduction in May compared to last year was limited to around 15%: in Finland, Italy, Austria, the United Kingdom, Portugal, France and Poland.

Nonetheless, in the latter three countries milk prices were below €30/100 kg.

New Measures

In recent weeks the EU Commission proposed an extension to the current intervention period for skimmed milk powder (SMP) and butter from the end of September through to December 31, 2015.

This will be immediately followed by the introduction of intervention measures for 2016, covering the period January 1 through to September 30 if passed in Brussels.

Where Aids to Private Storage support measures for dairy are concerned, the current scheme will be extended from September 30, 2015 to February 29, 2016.

Significantly, the Commission in Brussels is not proposing any changes to either the current intervention or aids to private storage price structure.