The final cost of the Superlevy Instalment Scheme to the Government was €35.6m in 2015.

Given the very high volumes of milk produced across the EU in the final year of the Milk Quota Regime, the consequent high levels of super levy incurred, and the declining milk prices, the EU Commission introduced a provision whereby Member States were permitted to facilitate the payment of the super levy by the milk producers in three annual instalments.

The payments would be made without interest, on the understanding that the full amount of the levy was paid to the Commission by the Member State in year 1.

The Department introduced a Super Levy Instalment Scheme in June 2015, backed by EU and national legislation.

It allowed applicants to pay at least one third of their levy by October 2015 and the Exchequer would pay the remaining on the understanding that applicants would, as per a signed written agreement, reimburse the Exchequer in ten equal instalments from the months of May to September in 2016 and 2017.

Some 3,741 participants availed of the Scheme and the Exchequer contributed €35.6m to the EU Commission on their behalf.

These applicants have committed to reimburse the Exchequer in the 10 equal instalments over the two years.

The scheme is designed to ease the cash flow burden on dairy farmers, who would otherwise have to pay the entire bill in 2015. It followed the introduction by the European Commission of legislation to allow for such payments to be spread in three annual instalments, without interest.

The final quota position for put Ireland 4.4% over quota at the end of March 2015 and with a final superlevy bill of €71.2m.

This is some €2.2m above the Department’s initial estimate of €69m – calculated on an estimate that Ireland would finish 4.34% over quota.

Ireland is set to pay the fourth highest superlevy bill in Europe.

The European total bill had also been revised upwards to €868m and with 13 countries facing a bill.