By FW reporters
CONTINUING with milk quotas to 2006 is “economic barminess”, UK farm minister Jack Cunningham told this weeks Agra Europe Outlook conference in London.
“It is tantamount to saying to our US and New Zealand competitors, `There are the growing world markets – go out and get them.”
EU Agenda 2000 proposals – which are expected to call for a 15% price cut and a 2% quota increase – did not go far enough. But achieving more would be extremely difficult – only Italy, Sweden and Denmark supported the UK in its views.
EC deputy director-general David Roberts emphasised the scale of the problem. Getting rid of quotas would be as traumatic as introducing them, he said. “Milk quota has become an asset and to convert it back to nothing will be extremely difficult.”
But Agenda 2000 was a start. “We believe that by 2006 – the end of the next quota period – the policy will be very near its sell-by date.”
A record price of 18.6p/litre was paid for cohort quota at Cardigan Cattle Mart last Monday. A total of 125,000 litres was offered at butterfat levels of about 3.92%, with prices fetching 17.8-18.6p/litre.