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Written Answers. - Milk Quota.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 105. Mr. B. Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith  asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food Information on Joe Walsh Zoom on Joe Walsh  if, in view of the need to increase the size of the average milk quota in the Cavan-Monaghan area, in a milk restructuring scheme no quota will be lost from this general area; if, in a redistribution of quota, priority will be given to areas such as Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26946/02]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh Zoom on Joe Walsh Under Agenda 2000, apart from the increase in quota levels for Ireland, I negotiated also changes to the EU milk quota regulations which allowed for greater flexibility in how member states apply the system. Based on this, I introduced major changes to the regime in Ireland in the European Communities (Milk Quota) Regulations, 2000. I am satisfied that these have had very positive effects and are achieving the objective of placing quota in the hands of active committed dairy producers. One result of these changes is that the milk quota restructuring scheme is now the main means by which milk quota is acquired by producers.

Notwithstanding the acknowledged success of the restructuring scheme to date, we now need to consider mechanisms aimed at making even more quota available to those who need it to expand their operation in order to remain competitive in the coming years and to earn a decent living. The fact is that there is not enough quota coming into the restructuring pool to meet such needs. With the help of the milk quota review group, I have been considering mechanisms which would achieve this. I have asked the organisations represented on the group to further consider how more quota can be brought into the pool, particularly in parts of the country where there is a serious deficit of quota relative to the demand from active producers.

I will consider those submissions as soon as they become available as well as the recommendations already made to me by the review group. While I have not made any decision as yet in this matter, I have made clear the importance I attach to the existing ring fencing rules and the importance of these to certain areas of [1525]the country, including those to which the Deputy referred.

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