Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan has attacked Phil Hogan, the European Agriculture Commissioner, over the crisis in the dairy sector.
“Big Phil is as arrogant as ever,” the Midlands-Northwest MEP said.
He strongly criticised Mr. Hogan’s recent contribution in the European Parliament over the worsening situation in the dairy sector.
“He came fully armed and equipped with facts and figures to illustrate just how bad things have become for dairy farmers,” Mr. Flanagan said.
“He told us that the average milk price is now 27.62c/kg, a fall of 11.5 per cent from the already low base of this time last year.
“He told us that there is now a global problem of oversupply.”
Commissioner Hogan said that milk deliveries across the European Union increased in 2014 and 2015 by 4.4 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively, but that, in the first quarter of this year, deliveries grew by 7.2 per cent.
“He even broke the numbers down for us,” Mr. Flanagan said. “In the first two months of this year, the Netherlands had increased supply by 330,000 tonnes, Germany by 300,000, Poland by 140,000 and Ireland by 110,000.
“However, in pure percentage terms, Ireland led the pack.”
Mr. Hogan said that the problem was not because of oversupply, but due to overproduction, which he claimed was “not sustainable”.
This drew Mr. Flanagan’s ire.
“This is the same Commissioner who scoffed at me over the last year when I pointed out the danger of all this very deliberately planned new increased production,” the former TD said.
“He is a former minister from the same party (Fine Gael) whose own agriculture minister for the past five years, Simon Coveney, advised and encouraged dairy farmers in Ireland over and over again to increase their herd, to expand their facilities.
“‘Go out and borrow’, they told them, ‘take the money while it’s cheap and never mind the increased debt – the good times are here and they’re only going to get better’.”
Mr. Flanagan said that the most frustrating part of the crisis in the dairy sector was that the milk industry is profit-making.
“Tesco are making it. ‘Co-operative’ bosses are making it. Luxembourg, the tax haven, is making it,” he said.
“Yet the dairy farmer gets massive debt. Is it any wonder despair and depression prevails?”