Before this, the price of milk was 12c a litre. I am trying to introduce market orientation to the trading of milk. I consider that ring-fencing is still a good policy initiative. I have reviewed the milk quota system in its entirety and believe ring-fencing should remain. However, I have often stated publically that in preparing for the 2008 review of quotas people's opinions must be heard. What is the best option for Ireland Incorporated and what should be considered? Is it time to get rid of quotas in Ireland and the European Union? If we so decide, how should it be done? Alternatively, should it not be done?
There are many issues that will require time to be discussed and reflected on to ascertain the best option for Ireland in the coming years in preparation for what will happen in 2014. The Commission's view is known in this regard and we must now decide where we want to be. Ireland has always been highly pragmatic in the manner in which we have dealt with trade and quotas. While we are at a price of 12 cent a litre, many of my colleagues are at a price of €2.50, which simply is not economically viable, is competitively difficult and is causing enormous problems.
The new scheme which will be closed tomorrow will be highly beneficial. It has attracted great interest and the review by all the farming organisations has been positive. Equally, I hope and expect it will be highly positive on this occasion. As for the previous scheme that operated in the winter, I decided to run two schemes within this quota year because this constitutes a new regime, a new option and a new opportunity.
Quota is available in the part of the world from which the Deputy and I come; that was not necessarily always the problem. The problem has always been availability in the south. Consequently, with the availability of quota and tabulation, I expect people will make some very good decisions on this occasion.