Dáil Éireann - Volume 627 - 14 November, 2006

Written Answers. - Milk Quota.

Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her plans to improve the transparency and consultation with milk quota owners before the new quota exchange schemes are announced; the legal status of milk quota; and to revise the decision to penalise those who sell their milk quota, including those who do so for reasons of ill health, old age or bereavement. [37892/06]

  Mary Coughlan: I announced the detailed rules governing the Milk Quota Trading Scheme in late September following a six-month period of consultation with the main farming organisations, each of which represents both buyers and sellers of milk quota. These consultations were extensive and involved a series of meetings with each organisation. I also received submissions from some organisations and individuals.

The Milk Quota Trading Scheme supersedes the Milk Quota Restructuring Scheme. It differs from the latter in the introduction of a market mechanism, which did not exist heretofore. This will afford buyers and sellers far greater freedom to determine the volume and price of quota they wish to buy and sell than was the case under the old scheme. Rather than being penalised, sellers are being provided with the opportunity to obtain [975] a better price for their quota than would have been the case had I continued to implement the Milk Quota Restructuring Scheme for a further year. Indeed part of the rationale of the scheme was to encourage those wishing to exit the sector for personal or family reasons to do so while securing a market return rather than the fixed price available in the old scheme.

As regards the legal status of milk quota, “delivery quota”, as defined in the European Communities (Milk Quota) Regulations, 2000 (SI No. 94 of 2000), means the quantity of milk or other milk products which may be delivered by a producer to a purchaser from his or her holding, in accordance with the Regulations, in a milk quota year without the producer being liable to pay levy. These Regulations, as amended, allow the Minister to introduce schemes for the surrender of milk quota at the end of each milk quota year and the reallocation of the surrendered quota at the beginning of the subsequent milk quota year, including the setting of a maximum payment for surrendered and reallocated quota.