A ‘soft landing‘ in regard to the end of milk quotas in the EU was discussed again at European Council level recently.

An Irish delegation along with German, Polish, Dutch, Austrian, Irish, Danish, Latvian, Estonian, Belgian and Luxembourg counterparts informed Agriculture ministers in the EU about their request for a “soft landing” in the context of the phasing-out of the milk quotas.The request was made at last Mondays European Council meeting of Agriculture Ministers.

The group, asked whether it would be possible to reduce the penalties for those countries who risk exceeding their national milk quotas, by adjusting the fat correction coefficients and/or reducing the super levy.

However, a number of delegations were opposed to this request considering that the rules defined in 2008 for the end of quota regime should be applied strictly to avoid a distortion of competition within the EU.

The Commission is due to present a report by 30 June 2014 on the development of the market situation in the milk sector, as provided for in the “milk package” regulation. This report will be discussed further in the Council.

Latest super-levy figures released by the Dept. of Agriculture show that Ireland is 1.26 per cent over quota for the end of February. CSO milk statistics for Febuary show that domestic milk intake by creameries and pasteurisers was estimated at 213.2 million litres for February 2014. This was 4.4 per cent below the corresponding 2013 figure.

Comparing the February 2014 milk produce figures with those for February 2013 shows that: Total milk sold for human consumption decreased by 9.7 per cent to 33.6 million litres and butter production was down 6.3 per cent to 5,900 tonnes.

EU wide milk intake in contrast to the Irish situation was up 4.6 per cent compared to the same month in 2013 to 11,922,000 tonnes.