Senator Mulcahy was speaking today (Wednesday) as the first day of April marked the ending of milk quotas across the European Union.
“Today is a huge day for Irish agriculture as it brings to an end the 31 year quota that had applied to milk production. There is a real opportunity now for Clare dairy farmers to increase production and export worldwide.
“The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, pointed out that Ireland’s dairy production (at approximately 5.4 billion litres in 2013) is roughly the same as it was back in 1984. Over the same time period, production in New Zealand, where they have a grass-based system similar to Ireland’s, has increased from 7.6 billion litres to about 19 billion litres. It is now time for Ireland’s dairy production to grow and the Minister has been preparing well for the abolition of the quota by exploring new global markets for Irish dairy products. There is huge opportunity in third country markets, with China a great example.
“We have been taking a whole of Government approach to prepare for the post quota era to ensure a smooth transition and to help Irish farmers capitalise. Budget 2015 provided for income averaging over five years when it comes to paying income tax bills, which is hugely beneficial for farmers. The Rural Development Plan prioritises the dairy sector in areas including on-farm investments and knowledge transfer programmes for farmers.
“The agri-food sector is integral to the Government’s plan to spread the economic recovery and jobs growth to all parts of the country. Today’s abolition of milk quotas will play a huge role in this,” said Senator Mulcahy.