Written Answers. - Milk Super Levy.

Peter Barry

Question:

233 Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the steps he is taking to avoid a repeat of this year of the 16 million gallon milk surplus on which farmers have had to pay a super levy; whether the present system of monitoring is adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Responsibility for remaining within our allocated EC milk quota is a matter for the dairy industry itself. Under the quota system operated by Ireland, milk quota is allocated to milk purchasers. While my Department monitors the national position on the basis of milk intake information received from purchasers, the purchaser is responsible for the management of that quota and thus for the transmission to individual producers of information on an ongoing basis regarding his/her quota position. Each individual producer has an allocated milk quota and a decision by that producer to deliver milk in excess of that quota involves making an assumption that other producers will deliver less than their entitlement.

The surge in milk production during Autumn 1992 which has given rise to our over-quota position at present is due to a number of factors including favourable weather, under production during the earlier part of the year and the incentive provided by buoyant milk prices. The fact that super levy was not incurred in the previous three years may also have caused producers to disregard the warnings issued in relation to their quota position. I have no reason to believe that the quota monitoring arrangements, either nationally or at purchaser level, contributed to the increased production. The current milk year will not end until 31 March and so it is not possible at this stage to say what the super levy liability will turn out to be. Action can still be taken by producers to reduce their potential liability for levy and they should keep in close contact with their purchasers between now and the end of March.