The ICMSA President, Jackie Cahill, has expressed concern that the EU dairy market could be 'carved-up' as a by-product of the forthcoming Commission regulations governing the EU milk sector. Mr Cahill said that amongst many likely changes will be legislation to provide for individual milk supplier contracts as well as modifications of the competition law. He said that while the suggested changes did both contain some merit, ICMSA was becoming very concerned about the direction that changed competition law seemed to be headed. Mr Cahill said our attentions should focus on the so-called 'block exemption' as currently being debated, which would allow producers and processors to agree arrangements for a specified region or country on milk production and price. This would give a virtual monopoly and make it extremely difficult for outside suppliers like ourselves to get in – and stay in – these markets, stated the ICMSA President.
"We met ICOS last week to discuss the dangers we see looming up on the block exemptions that looks likely to be permitted under the new legislation. The fact of the matter are that the block exemption will amount to powers of veto being given to regional or national groups of producers and it is naïve in the extreme to imagine that, for instance, that power would not be exercised by groups of French farmers and dairies in regions like Brittany and Normandy, as well as regions of Germany. This will have serious implications for our sector where we export massive proportions of our total product and we cannot afford to have whole regions being ruled out to us by the exercise of this block exemption", stated Mr Cahill.
"It would be a very unfortunate paradox if the expansion that many envisage following the end of the quotas was undermined by the possibility that exports and internal trade within the EU could be curbed through new competition arrangements. ICMSA has made it perfectly clear to the Department of Agriculture that this is a major issue that will directly affect viability, profitability and scope for expansion", stated Mr Cahill.
"I am becoming very concerned that this issue is not receiving the attention it most certainly merits", concluded Mr Cahill.