The EU has officially lifted its ceilings on the levels of milk powder and butter that can be put into intervention in a single year.

The move comes on the back of political agreement for the move at the last meeting of European Agriculture Ministers and follows huge pressure from the farming community to help address the deepening crisis in dairy markets.

The volume limits for SMP and butter to enter intervention at a fixed price were officially raised today, following the publication of the official EU regulations.

The ceiling for SMP will rise from 109,000t to 218,000t and for butter it be lifted from 60,000t to 100,000t.

SMP has only been able to enter intervention through a tendering process since April 1, after its original volume ceiling was reached.

Many dairy market commentators have noted the 'uncertainty' created by the tendering system in recent weeks.

It is now hoped the increased volume ceilings should restore the “floor” in the market that fixed intervention prices provide.

To date, there has been 149,280 tonnes of SMP bought into intervention (2015 and 2016 to date), with almost 9,000t of Irish product.

Whilst 64,863 tonnes of SMP have been entered into the Private Storage Aid Scheme in total, Irish producers have tended to avoid the scheme, preferring to move product on while it is fresh.

So far, over 211,000t of European butter has availed of PSA with almost 28,000t of Irish butter receiving storage aid. Remember, Ireland always availed of PSA for butter, as it was a legitimate support for holding the high volumes of stock produced by with our seasonal milk supply.