14 April 2000

Fischler hints at keeping quotas

EU agricultural commissioner, Franz Fischler, gave his biggest hint yet at the Irish Grassland Society conference that dairy quotas were likely to remain in place until their official review in 2008.

Answering pre-set questions from Irish Farmers Journals editor, Matt Dempsey, Mr Fischler laid to rest suspicions that the present quota system may be reviewed in 2003.

"It was still open and could be reviewed in 2003 if states could produce something different to replace quotas." That seemed unlikely and the present system would remain until 2008, he told delegates.

Elaborating on dairy quotas, he said the commission was clearly in favour of quota being as cheap as possible to stop some producers making money leasing quota. "Profits should be for those who produced the milk and not sofa-milkers – land owners who rent out quota."

Despite Irish producers wishes for trans-border trade in quota, Mr Fischler said that would be impractical and lead to difficulty managing super-levy or overproduction.

"Most member states made it clear that they wanted to trade quota within their own countries."