Dáil Éireann - Volume 524 - 25 October, 2000

Written Answers. - Milk Quota.

144. Mr. Moloney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the amount of milk transferred in this year's restructuring scheme; the way in which this compares with recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23385/00]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): The main objective of the changes I made in the management of milk quotas in Ireland was to provide committed dairy farmers with greater access to permanent quota at a reasonable cost. The rigid link between land and quota and the volume of dormant quota which existed had hindered the efficient restructuring of the sector.

Even at this early stage, the benefits of the new regime are very clear. Over 62 million gallons of quota have been made available under this year's restructuring scheme to active milk producers. This is almost equivalent to the total quantity restructured during the past five years. The average annual amount allocated over the past five years was 14.3 million gallons. The positive response of the Minister for Finance in the tax treatment of purchases under the scheme also helped considerably in making it a success.

This year's restructuring scheme, together with future schemes will have a significant impact on [1512] the structure of the dairy industry. A preliminary analysis of the effects of this year's scheme shows that there has been a significant increase in the number of producers with quotas in excess of 35,000 gallons even compared with last year. In addition about 90% of the quota was taken up by producers in the small to medium size categories. It is very encouraging to see that such a significant number of producers in these categories had the commitment required to invest in expanding their enterprises and to better prepare themselves for the future.