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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Vol. 683 No. 1

Priority Questions.

Job Protection.

Michael Creed


42 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the way he proposes to protect and increase jobs in the food industry in view of the threats posed to employment in the sector by the major multiples, some of whom are increasing their dependance on UK suppliers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20643/09]

The agrifood sector is Ireland's most important indigenous sector, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout every county at producer and processor level. The sector was never more important to the Irish economy than it is now. We are justifiably proud of our reputation as "Ireland the Food Island" and, notwithstanding current economic difficulties, the Government is continuing to invest hundreds of millions of euro at farm and processor levels.

As a food producing country, it is essential that we have a robust food industry that provides an outlet for our producers and adds value to the primary product. Irish food, drink and horticulture exports last year were worth in excess of €8 billion. I share Bord Bia's view that the industry has the potential to boost annual export returns by more than 20%, thus reaching €10 billion by 2011.

The sector generates output of €20 billion annually. It has been and continues to be supported at primary, processing, research and marketing levels through a range of measures undertaken in line with the strategy set out in the agri-vision 2015 report. The food industry is vital to our economic future, in particular at this time in terms of employment, value-added and export earnings. While it is undoubtedly facing challenges it has in the past demonstrated its resilience and capacity to adapt to competitive challenges and to build business in emerging and changing markets.

Building on the natural advantages of food production in Ireland and applying the highest standards of food safety, the sector has been transformed into a sophisticated industry well capable of competing on worldwide markets. In more recent times, mainly because of the depreciation of sterling and general contraction of demand, the competitive pressures on the sector have become more acute. The Government is conscious of the factors impacting on the industry and is actively engaged in identifying ways in which we can continue to assist the sector's development and growth.

While it is essential that we continue to identify and build new export markets for our food and beverages, it is equally important that we have a strong domestic market for Irish food and drink. A strong domestic presence is an essential factor in developing export markets. In this regard, we need an Irish retail sector that maintains a strong commitment to sourcing and providing a comprehensive range of familiar Irish products and brands. Ultimately, of course, it is a matter for consumers if they wish to support quality Irish food products, indigenous Irish suppliers and Irish jobs.

I strongly agree with the Tánaiste that retailers must strike a reasonable balance between granting price reductions to consumers, a practice with which none of us would disagree, and giving to suppliers and producers a fair return, which is essential to the maintenance of thousands of Irish jobs and the survival of primary producers.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

While the relationship between the food industry and the retail trade is essentially a matter for those parties, there are specific provisions in competition law that extend to business relationships, including relationships between suppliers and retailers. These provisions prohibit various anti-competitive practices, including price-fixing, abusing a dominant position, requesting "hello" money and imposing resale price maintenance. In that specific regard, the House will be aware that the Tánaiste has requested the Competition Authority to conduct a study of the retail import-distribution sector in regard to how competition is working in the sector and whether there are any practices or methods of competition that are affecting the supply of goods or services. The Tánaiste recently received the authority's report and is currently examining its conclusions and intends to publish it shortly.

The Government appreciates fully the value of the food sector to the Irish economy, not least in terms of the employment provided and is committed to its ongoing support in terms of investment and innovation. The record of investment proves this beyond doubt. We will continue to work with the industry to address the ongoing competitive pressures and to ensure that it continues to produce high-quality food product that is more than capable of competing with any comparable product at home or abroad. At the same time, the retail sector has a key role to play in supporting Irish jobs through its sourcing and provision of quality Irish products and brands.

I asked the Minister what steps the Government proposes to take in light of the threat posed. Members will have heard yesterday the outpouring of anger by Irish farmers.

A survey which I conducted last August shows a 220% mark-up by the multiplies for beef and a 177% mark-up for milk for which farmers were at that time getting 31 cent a litre and are now getting only 21 cent a litre. Does the Government have a strategy to deal with this? The retail sector is like the wild west; there is absolute mayhem where Irish suppliers are being led like lambs to the slaughter by the multiples. Many of the multiples, in particular Tesco, are outsourcing products for their supermarket shelves. Does the Government have a job retention strategy for the primary producers and those involved in the retail sector?

I share Deputy Creed's concerns. Indeed, I heard him express in other fora his concerns in regard to the returns to primary producers and, in many instances, processors. I want to reiterate that while recent reductions in prices will undoubtedly be welcomed by consumers and will help to address the difference in price between here and Northern Ireland, the Government appreciates and is conscious of the concerns expressed in regard to the possible implications for employment in this country, in particular if changes in supply change arrangements reduce the level of purchases by retailers from Irish producers.

The Tánaiste and I have met with and outlined to the major multiplies the fact that our primary producers and processors, be they small, medium or large enterprises, need a fair return on the products they supply. Among these small, medium and large enterprises are world-class leaders in food production systems, be it in the area of beef, dairy or any other food product. These enterprises have invested considerably in recent years, as has the taxpayer, in terms of providing new facilities and ensuring that our industry is at the cutting edge of technology. Some of the world leaders, in terms of international brands, are located here. They deserve the absolute support of the multiples who are trading in our country.

We all agree with that. The problem is that those quality products are not getting space on the multiples' shelves because of imported product from the UK. I reiterate, does the Government have a strategy to deal with this? In particular, will the Minister agree with the suggestion I made on radio this morning, which the Minister indicated earlier he heard, that, as in the case of the UK, we introduce a code of conduct for retailers and suppliers, enforced by an agency equivalent to the Office of Fair Trading by way of a merger of the Competition Authority and Consumers Association of Ireland? This would ensure fair treatment. Currently, we have excessive profiteering by Tesco which had a 9% margin in2008-09. To put this in context, the global turnover of Tesco is more than 1.5 times the GDP of the State. It is making approximately €20,000 per second globally and did not get to that position by pussy-footing around the place. I fear Tesco is running rings around the Government and that unless something is done urgently thousands of jobs will be lost in the quality firms to which the Minister referred and at the farm gate.

I referred in my earlier remarks to the questions posed by Deputy Creed in regard to the primary producers and processors.

I discussed yesterday with the Minister of State, Deputy Sargent, and my officials the operation of the UK code, which I understand has been subject to ongoing criticism, in particular by suppliers in terms of its effectiveness. The Tánaiste told the House yesterday that the Competition Authority has reported to her on how competition in the retail import distribution sector is working. She also stated that her officials are analysing the report and that she will publish it shortly. The Minister of State and I, with the officials, are engaging with the Tánaiste on the content of that report. If, following our consideration of the report, decisions need to be taken or regulations need to be implemented, the Deputy can rest assured the Government will do so urgently. We are particularly conscious of the threat to jobs and income for the primary producer and the threat to jobs in our primary processors. The industry has gone from a commodity-based industry to a sophisticated food industry and it deserves every credit in that regard.

Milk Prices.

Sean Sherlock


43 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the supports which will be given to the dairy sector and dairy farmers in view of the reduction in milk prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20405/09]

The EU Common Agricultural Policy provides a range of measures that can be used to assist the dairy market. In the health check negotiations last year there was pressure to remove or weaken these considerably. At the time I fought hard to keep the key market instruments in place and these are now being used to help support the market.

Dairy farmers' incomes are made up of the market price paid for milk and direct income support from the EU. Supply and demand have a major bearing on the price paid for milk. World market prices determine the returns received by dairy processors and this is reflected in the price paid to farmers. Export refunds and internal subsidies were suspended by the EU in 2007 as prices were at exceptionally high levels. As the market situation deteriorated towards the end of 2008, I called on the Commissioner to reintroduce support measures to help stabilise markets. The Commission initially responded last November by bringing forward the operation of the private storage scheme for butter.

In January, the Commissioner announced the reintroduction of refunds to support the export of dairy products outside the EU. This was an important step and signalled an intention by the Commission to put a floor under the market. In March, the intervention schemes for butter and skimmed milk powder were opened, thus allowing the purchase of product up to set limits at a fixed price. At that time I met with the Commissioner to discuss the market situation and stressed the importance of continuing to accept butter and skimmed milk powder into intervention at levels close to the intervention purchase price. I am pleased that the Commission has continued to buy butter and skimmed milk powder into intervention at prices close to the fixed price. I also called for the continued use of export refunds at viable levels to move significant quantities of product from the EU.

I raised this issue with my colleagues at the Council of Agriculture Ministers in April. I drew attention to the serious difficulties on the milk market where the severe slump in demand has led to a dramatic fall in milk prices. I urged the Commission to continue using the existing measures to support the market and to consider introducing additional methods where appropriate. Milk will feature on the agenda of the Agriculture Council next Monday and I will once again reiterate my views to the Commission and to the Council of Ministers.

The EU Commission's actions in utilising available support measures have helped to stabilise the market. However, as the milk price is greatly influenced by the forces of supply and demand, support schemes have a limited effect on milk prices. The short-term outlook for the dairy sector remains uncertain and I continue to monitor closely the Commission's management of the dairy market. In this regard I will again discuss the matter next week with my colleagues in the Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

I thank the Minister for his response. The Minister is not giving us much solace on the responses to the downward trajectory in global milk prices. Is there scope within the European Commission and will the Minister ask at next week's Agriculture and Fisheries Council for a dairy adjustment scheme to be implemented under EU legislation through the use of unused EU funding?

Apart from the €7 million that I allocated to sheep farmers, which will be distributed in December, we do not have access to the unused funds until 2010. One of the areas identified as a potential recipient is the dairy sector. However, that is not applicable until 2010. The European Union has not yet outlined to us the specific schemes on which we will be able to draw down unused funds.

The Deputy referred to the problem of demand and supply. Consumers worldwide do not have the level of income to purchase sufficient dairy products. Dairy prices rose to a very high level in 2007. Subsequently, there was increased production in third countries, including the United States. There were currency fluctuations that militated against us in the European Union. The dollar was strong at one stage and weak at another. New Zealand has also had the opportunity to change the value of its currency. All of those factors have had an impact.

Last year, I fought very tenaciously for the European Union to retain the market mechanism measures, particularly aid to private storage, intervention and export refunds. In the early days of negotiations of the health check of the Common Agricultural Policy there was little or no support for the retention of such measures. In the final day of the negotiation we got some support from other countries. Were those measures not in place now, the sector would be in even more difficulty than it finds itself in.

Will the aid to private storage continue indefinitely or does it have a definitive timeline? Quotas will be abolished in 2015. Notwithstanding that we cannot foretell what will happen in global markets, the Government must take responsibility for the question that is on every farmer's lips. Will farmers be able to produce milk after 2015, notwithstanding the current difficulties? It would appear the Government has no coherent policy regarding the potential loss of many farms and an outflow from farming because we do not know what will happen in 2015. There is no sense of direction from the Government in terms of planning for that eventuality. Farmers need to get such a sense.

The provision of additional quota does not in any way contribute to current difficulties because Europe will be more than 4% to 5% under quota this year. Quotas will be abolished in 2015. We have argued for increased quotas so that there will not be a hard landing in 2015. For the primary producers and processors the dairy sector is very sophisticated and has the potential to grow. The best estimates available to us from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations are that there will be increased demand for dairy products in future. We believe there is a bright future for the dairy industry even though very serious problems face our dairy farmers and processors today. If the health check measures were unravelled, we might not have the market management measures to support us. That would be an outright catastrophe. We fought, practically alone until the final day, to retain those measures.

A meeting of the management committee took place today and just before I came in I was advised that further product will go into intervention and to export refunds also.

Fishing Industry Development.

Michael Creed


44 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason for the delay in finalising the operational programme for fisheries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20644/09]

The seafood development measure contained in the National Development Plan 2007-2013 is divided between the EU co-funded operational programme and the national seafood development operational programme. The EU co-funded operational programme has already commenced and has funded the 2008 decommissioning scheme which has allowed 46 boats to be decommissioned with grant aid totalling €36.6 million already paid or in the process of being paid over 2008 and 2009.

The National Seafood Development Operational Programme 2007-2013 was advertised for public consultation in October 2008. Following this consultation process, issues were raised by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on behalf of the Central Fisheries Board regarding the grant-aiding of projects where environmental issues arise relating to compliance with the EU birds and habitats directives and sea lice control on salmon farms.

This Department and its agencies, working with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, developed a plan to deliver compliance with the EU birds and habitat directives for wild fisheries and aquaculture over a determined timeframe. This plan was submitted to DG Environment for consideration.

A meeting between representatives of this Department, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and agencies, and DG Environment took place in Brussels on 13 May 2009 to discuss the plan with a view to securing DG Environment's support for the approach set down in the plan. DG Environment advised that it was, in principle, favourably disposed towards Ireland's plan subject to a positive response to the issues raised and further clarifications from the Irish authorities on the details of the plan. When these matters have been satisfactorily addressed, DG Environment expects to be in a position to respond formally on the plan at an early date.

This Department is also in discussion with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to inform it of the significant progress made on managing sea lice levels on salmon farms. I am hopeful that the concerns raised have been satisfactorily addressed and that we will be in a position to adopt the national operational programme for fisheries in the near future. The delay in the launch of the national seafood development operational programme has not held up grant-aiding aquaculture developments in 2009 as the European Commission has agreed to the continuation of grant aid under the 2000 to 2006 operational programme until 30 June 2009. A provision of €5 million has been made for aquaculture development in the Agriculture Vote for 2009 and I have approved the spending of €4.5 million of this for aquaculture projects in both the BMW, and south and east regions under the 2000 to 2006 operational programme which will assist the continued operation of aquaculture projects in these areas and the employment that they support.

There is potential for significant job creation in the seafood sector and in particular in the shellfish sector. While I note what the Minister of State said in his latter comments, I can give examples of companies with development programmes and grant approval which cannot be paid those grants and therefore cannot progress with investment and job creation in the sector because of the delay in approving the national seafood development operational programme. We are now in 2009 — two years into the programme. Owing to ideological wrangling between the Green Party Ministers, Deputies Eamon Ryan and John Gormley, and the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Tony Killeen, jobs are not being created and are even being lost. Market opportunities particularly in France and Italy are being lost. I ask the Minister of State to put a deadline on the matter. When will we see the interdepartmental ideological wrangling between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party come to an end so that the sector can fulfil its potential and create desperately needed jobs?

It would be inaccurate to describe the situation as wrangling between the parties of Government. A December 2007 European Court of Justice judgment on Natura sites impacts very negatively on the situation we are trying to address. I welcome the level of co-operation that has been possible between this Department and the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, which has enabled us to present a lengthy document to the European Commission to advance all these matters.

The initial response from the Environment Directorate General to our meeting of 13 May was positive, subject to clarification of a number of points, and we are confident in our ability to deliver. I concur with Deputy Creed in regard to job creation potential and want to ensure that is realised at the earliest opportunity.

I ask the Minister of State to put a timeframe on this. Does he expect to complete interdepartmental negotiations and have the programme approved by the end of June or July? I can give an example of a company in County Waterford which is ready to double its workforce in this sector provided it receives the grant aid for which it has been approved but cannot be paid because of the Department's failure to get sanction from Brussels. Two years into the work, we are led to believe an interdepartmental group has been convened. What is the timeframe for resolving the issues so that investment can proceed?

The interdepartmental group was set up in January 2008 immediately following the European Court of Justice ruling.

It was announced again recently.

An enormous amount of work has been done in the intervening period to address the serious issues arising from the judgment against Ireland. Following the meeting of 13 May, I am confident the substantive issues have been addressed. Like Deputy Creed, I have travelled around the country and am familiar with a number of areas which have potential for job creation. Every effort will be made to ensure we get a positive reaction in the shortest possible timeframe.

Will that be in one month?

As the Deputy will be aware, setting a date is one of the most dangerous things one can do in politics.

After two years, that is not a satisfactory response.

Animal Carcase Disposal.

Sean Sherlock


45 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will investigate the cost of disposing of fallen animals; what he is doing to enable a reduction in costs in view of the suspension of the fallen animal scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20406/09]

My Department's contribution to the fallen animals scheme ceased with effect from Tuesday, 14 April 2009 as a result of budgetary constraints and in reflection of the greatly reduced incidence of BSE in this country. However, I provided continued financial support for the collection of certain dead animals, notably bovines over 48 months of age, for sampling as required under the ongoing national BSE surveillance programme.

The disposal of dead farm animals is subject to EU regulations, notably EC Regulation No. 1774 of 2002. These regulations require that animals which die on-farm must generally be disposed of through approved knackeries and rendering plants. With the ending of the fallen animals scheme the cost of collection and rendering for animals not covered by the new scheme is now a matter for negotiation between the individual collectors or rendering plants and their customers.

Within the boundaries of legal requirements, my Department is making every effort to facilitate measures enabling reduction of costs in the rendering and collection system, such as allowing cross-Border trade, permitting direct delivery by farmers to authorised plants, considering removal of some costs currently built into the rendering process and encouraging indigenous use of meat and bone meal for energy. Farmers may continue to use the existing collection network or, alternatively, may transport dead animals by prior arrangement to approved knackeries provided the carcasses are transported in leak-proof covered containers or vehicles. Burial of fallen animals is only permissible under licence in remote areas, that is, islands and listed mountain or bogland areas. Farmers who wish to bury animals on-farm should apply to their local district veterinary offices for burial licences. It is also a legal requirement on all keepers of bovine animals to notify my Department of movements of all live or dead bovines off their holdings.

Does the Minister acknowledge that approximately 243,000 on-farm deaths of animals occurred in 2007 in addition to approximately 30,000 still births? Does he also acknowledge that the suspension of this scheme will result in an increase in on-farm burials without prior notification and potential environmental hazards?

There is an onus on farmers to notify the Department of the death of an animal. I do not have figures of on-farm deaths for 2007 but the equivalent figure for 2008 was 298,000, which varies significantly from the figure given by the Deputy.

On a point of order, it indicates a significant year-on-year increase.

We have entered discussions on the scheme with all farming bodies. I have met representatives from each of the three main organisations at least once and my officials have met them on a number of occasions. They agree that the costs had to be taken out of the system. The scheme was introduced to deal with the severe difficulties we were experiencing in respect of BSE and it was never intended to put it on a permanent basis. Significant amounts of taxpayer funding has been spent on it and, thankfully, the incidence of disease in this country has reduced dramatically. I commend the officials in my Department and the farming community on achieving our current high level of disease prevention.

The costs were excessive and had to be reduced. They already have been reduced substantially. We have facilitated some companies in getting licences to supply product to Northern Ireland and I hope for further engagement with collectors, knackeries and renderers with a view to making prices competitive.

In regard to reducing the price differential between the Six Counties and the Republic, what is the nature of the consultation between the Minister and his Department and the knackeries and rendering plants? The difference in prices are significant at present and even if the scheme is abolished it will remain high when one looks at the various monthly bandings. Between new born and three months, the differential can be as high as €13.

We all know that competition generally has the effect of reducing prices. It has already had an effect even with a limited amount of product going North of the Border. We have also issued draft proposals to the renderers regarding the possibility of collecting carcasses directly. If they are in a position to collect, we will be able to allow individual farmers to bring products to renderers as well as to knackeries. That increased level of competition will bring about price reductions. The farming community generally recognises that the cost for the State was prohibitive.

Milk Prices.

On a point of order, if the Minister's reply to the following question is the same as that given to Question No. 43, perhaps we could proceed by way of dealing with supplementary questions.

That is for the Minister to decide.

Michael Creed


46 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the detailed analysis conducted by his Department on the crisis in the dairy industry; the measures he proposes to ensure a price to farmers for milk above the cost of production; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20645/09]

Other than the introductory paragraph, my response to this question is much the same as that given to Question No. 43.

My Department carries out analysis of the dairy sector on an ongoing basis. The causes of the current predicament are widely known at this stage. The past year has been challenging for the EU dairy sector. During 2008 international dairy markets fell from the record high levels they had reached in 2007 and there was increased volatility in the second half of the year. Global supply increased in response to high prices and demand contracted during 2008 due to the economic slump. We are operating in a changed policy framework where world market forces have a major influence on the price paid for milk. This is particularly relevant to dairy producing countries such as Ireland which export the majority of product.

Ultimately, the market is the source of income achieved through competitiveness, efficiency and innovation. In an open market it is not my role to fix or guarantee prices for farmers. However, it is my role to ensure that the available support measures are utilised by the Commission during periods of market turbulence. Most EU market support measures were suspended since 2007 as prices were at such high levels. When the situation deteriorated last year I called on the Commissioner to reintroduce market supports and to use them effectively. The Commission has taken steps in recent months to address the situation.

For the remainder of my response I refer Deputy Creed to the reply given to Question No. 43.

The Minister makes much of the fact that market support measures were retained in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy as an instrument for dealing with price fluctuations. We are currently experiencing the most severe of price fluctuations. Whereas farmers received in the region of 40 cents per litre of milk in 2007, they are now receiving 20 cents per litre. Teagasc estimates that the cost of producing milk is approximately 26 cents per litre. It is clear that the political objective behind retaining market support measures to deal with these fluctuations is not being met in the sense that farmers are still being asked to supply milk for less than the cost of production.

What has been the quantifiable return to dairy farmers in cent per litre of all the initiatives to which the Minister refers, including export refunds, aid to private storage and intervention? It is probably negligible in the sense that the price of milk has not increased above what is perceived as the current global market price. A large number of farmers will be forced out of the sector if a price of 20 cent per litre is maintained. Of necessity, this group will not comprise only small dairy farmers. It is noticeable that those who are hurting most currently have labour units on their farms and they are feeling the pinch more. What is the possibility of a more substantial level of support being provided by Europe, given Fianna Fáil's alliance with the liberals, who traditionally have been hostile to the CAP and who count Commissioner Fischer Boel as a member? What is the potential of adding 5 cent or 6 cent a litre in order that farmers can at least break even?

I fully appreciate the concerns expressed by Deputies Creed and Sherlock and other colleagues on both sides of the House regarding the serious difficulties facing the dairy sector. I am aware of these difficulties having spoken to farmers and processors in the various sectors. We have argued with the Commissioner at Union level that we need to use the market mechanism measures effectively regarding the quantities produced and the price paid. If we do not remove product from the market, normal supply and demand will maintain the downward pressure on prices.

I only became aware of the outcome of this morning's meeting as I entered the House and I did not have time to include it in the reply to Deputy Sherlock. A total of 7,686 tonnes of butter were accepted for intervention, including 2,103 tonnes of Irish butter or approximately 28%. A total of 22,789 tonnes of skimmed milk powder were taken into intervention, including 5,674 tonnes from Ireland or approximately 25%. The Commission maintained the refund level in regard to export refunds for both. It is important that quantities taken into intervention were purchased.

The Council of Ministers is due to meet next Monday and I will put forward the case strongly again to the Commissioner and the Commission about the need to continue to use the market mechanism measures as the most effective way to deal with price and the quantities taken in under all management measures.

This is the fourth month in a row I have heard this line during Question Time. The reality is farmers are turning in cows morning and evening at a loss. Does the Department have the will and the Minister the political commitment? Is Europe sympathetic to the case he makes to seek a meaningful response to this crisis, which will deliver a price of at least 25 cent or 26 cent a litre? While it may not be easily quantifiable, I would like departmental officials to exercise their minds on what is the tangible benefit of what has been achieved to date? In other words, what price would farmers be paid if these support measures had not been taken?

They are meaningless to farmers. We witnessed the anger of potato farmers towards Tesco yesterday and last week we witnessed the anger towards Tipperary Co-operative Creamery Limited and in Tullamore. I have sympathy for directors of co-operatives because they must take financial decisions, as they cannot trade recklessly. However, they need support so they can pay a price to farmers that exceeds the price of production. Can the Minister deliver that at European level?

Quantifying the value of the supports in place is not straightforward. The one way to increase prices is to remove product from the market. The Deputy correctly said the processors have not had it all their own way because they are not achieving prices on the world market, according to the dairy board and individual processors. At the April Council meeting, I specifically tabled an item on support for the dairy industry and ten other member states, including significant member states, supported us regarding the need for the Commission to give the best possible support to the dairy industry. I will raise the issue again next Monday and I hope even more member states will support us because, unfortunately, the position has not improved in the meantime.