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Irish farmers avail of EU milk deal

April 28th, 2017 8:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

Rose O'Donovan - Letter From Brussels

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MORE than 3,880 Irish dairy farmers applied for EU support for agreeing to voluntarily reduce milk output by over 60,600 tonnes for the period October 2016 to January 2017, according to final figures published by the Commission on earlier this month. 

Under the rules of the one-off measure launched last summer – with a budget allocation of €150 million – producers had to provide proof they had reduced milk output on their farms and were therefore eligible for the aid payment of €14 per 100kg of product not supplied on the market. 

‘Farmers are paid on the basis of the actual reduction in production and not the planned amount applied for, based on proof of the actual reduction provided to their national authority,’ DG agri officials outline. 

There was a high level of participation in the voluntary reduction scheme among the main dairy-producing countries such as Ireland, Germany, France, Poland, Netherlands and the UK. The national take-up varies from country to country, with the largest number of participating farmers in France (12,738), Germany (9,427), Poland (3,512), Austria (3,341) and the NL (3,279). 

The total volume reductions also vary greatly from 235,110t in Germany, 152,776t (France), 90,626t (UK) and 60,680t (IE) to 45t (Malta) and 12t (Cyprus). But the average is around 18t per eligible applicant, DG agri officials indicate. 

The money not used as part of the €150 million (total EU money) earmarked for the targeted reduction of 1.07 million tonnes ‘will remain available for agricultural expenditure and will finance other market measures that may prove necessary in the sector,’ DG agriI officials add. 

Industry sources suggest EU milk deliveries are expected to recover already in the second quarter of this year, with a 0.6% increase forecast for 2017. They point to a ‘reduction of global milk production since June,’ which ‘brought markets close to equilibrium,’ but say the outlook remains ‘very uncertain’ as US milk production continues to grow, New Zealand recovers sooner than anticipated and EU output gradually increases. 

Global demand remains sluggish, with relatively low oil prices tempering demand in the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Venezuela. Chinese buying is also expected to expand at a slower rate, they add. 

THE Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply released results of food safety audits undertaken at the 21 meat processing plants implicated in the federal police corruption probe on April 6th, which reveal that 10% of the 302 samples presented evidence of non-conformity with technical regulations that do not pose any health risks. 

These include levels of water in poultry and starch in sausages above the legally-permitted amounts, as well as the presence of the prohibited sorbic acid in sausages. But eight samples collected for examination by official laboratories – seven from the same establishment – revealed irregularities that might pose health risks among the public. 

Salmonella was detected in seven samples of hamburger patties produced by ‘Frigorífico Transmeat,’ where the line of production has since been shut down and products seized. Meanwhile, one sample out of the 302 showed the presence of the bacteria Staphylococcus in cooked sausages produced by ‘Frigorífico FrigoSantos’. The product has since been withdrawn for destruction. 

Establishments previously authorised to export to the EU were not among those where possible health risks were found, while there have been no notifications received by the authorities reporting health problems among consumers, sources add. 

Audits will be performed in other regions of the largest Latin American country not covered by the police probe ‘in order to ensure countrywide reliability of the veterinary inspection services,’ well-placed sources say. 

The Brazilian Ministry ‘will share any irregularities that might emerge from these audits with the law enforcement authorities,’ sources in Brasília confirm. 

•  Rose O’Donovan is editor of the Brussels-based agricultural publication AGRA FACTS. 

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