21 March 1997


NO decision on the future of milk quotas beyond Mar 31, 2000, has been made.

So warned the European Commissions Peter Dixon at the Bath and West Societys Ps and Qs of quotas spring conference.

"No one knows what will happen on Apr 1, 2000, but we may have a clearer idea in the next few months," he said.

Milk quotas were introduced overnight and could be removed as quickly. The steel industry believed its quotas could not be removed suddenly, but they were. Mr Dixon said the future policy of the dairy industry could not be separated from the development of the CAP.

The key issues relating to CAP were the completion of a single market with genuine free movement within the Community; the single currency, which may reduce fluctuations in the green £ system; and the possibility of more countries joining the EU.

Quotas were introduced to kerb production in the dairy sector and reduce intervention stocks.

Currently supply and demand were in a better balance and the intervention stocks small, said Dr Dixon. The reasons behind the kerb on milk production were still relevant within the EU today. But there was pressure for reductions in support systems and border protections from the World Trade Organisation.

Many producers hoped there would be compensation for quota removal. But they must remember that it was not intended when quotas were introduced in 1984 that they should be traded or have a value. And, the EU agricultural sector has a restricted budget.n

What future for milk quotas? They were introduced overnight and could be removed as quickly.


&#8226 Kerb on production needed.

&#8226 EU keen to protect rural areas.

&#8226 Introduced without warning.

&#8226 Not intended to have a value.

&#8226 Limited EU budget for agricultural spending.

&#8226 World Trade Organisation wants lower EU milk prices.