Written Answers. - Milk Quota.

David Stanton

Question:

175 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the proposals he has to facilitate the availability of milk quota; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25472/03]

The milk quota restructuring schemes have been the primary means of transferring milk quotas over recent years. They have proved a very useful mechanism for getting milk quota into the hands of active, committed producers at a reasonable cost. However, I am currently considering how the present mechanism can be improved in light of the emerging needs of the sector. I am aware that representative organisations in the sector are also considering this matter and I will consult them in the period ahead in order to share ideas on initiatives that might help to improve the availability of quota for active, committed producers.

I recently announced the decoupling of the dairy premium in 2005 – the earliest date possible under the Luxembourg Agreement – and I am confident that this will significantly improve the prospects of an orderly restructuring of the milk production at farm level. I took this decision with due regard to the views of representatives of the sector who had expressed fears that deferring the decoupling date until 2007 would hinder progress towards a more efficient farm level production structure. The decision to decouple from 2005 will help to accelerate the freeing up of quota and increase the quantities available for re-allocation.