By PAUL JAYNESource The Irish Daily TimesNovember 29, 2019 03:13:20When dairy farmers, who make up around half of the Irish population, are selling on a discount for their products, it isn’t all bad, according to a report by a charity.
It’s been claimed that the prices charged by some of Ireland’s biggest dairy exporters are in direct contradiction to the conditions of EU rules which require farmers to pay the EU equivalent of their fair share of tax on the milk they produce.
As the Irish Times reported, the European Commission has launched a probe into the price of dairy products across the EU and has said it may take action against Ireland’s largest dairy exporter.
In an open letter published on Monday, the EU’s chief competition officer, Jose Manuel Barroso, warned that the situation is not ideal and that the commission is taking “unprecedented measures” to ensure farmers’ incomes are protected.
It comes as the EU is set to launch a fresh crackdown on Irish dairy producers.
Under pressure from farmers and food campaigners, the commission has announced it will impose new sanctions on EU producers and their subsidiaries.
Under the new measures, which were approved by the European Parliament, EU countries are also to be held to account for their own compliance with the EU regulations and any measures taken to combat tax avoidance.
The new rules will also apply to the three biggest Irish exporters – the European Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Sea Turtles and the European Food Safety Authority.
Under EU law, the Commodities Futures Market (CFM) is an intergovernmental organisation, and is tasked with regulating the price at which commodities can be traded.
The EU’s rules state that if producers have a direct financial interest in price, it must be disclosed and that producers must not be allowed to “exploit their financial advantage”.
The new EU rules apply to all the exporters listed in the CFM’s database.
Under Article 8 of the CFMA, producers must disclose the financial interest they hold in the price they pay on their milk and the amount they receive in taxes and other benefits.
The rules state producers must also publish the amount of money they receive from suppliers in return for the right to sell milk on a profit-making basis.
In a statement on Monday morning, a spokesperson for the Irish Dairy Association said the group is opposed to the new rules and is working with the authorities to ensure that it is properly implemented.
The CFMA does not regulate the price paid by Irish dairy exponents, said the spokesperson, Michael Connolly.
This has led to many exporters paying lower prices on the market, which have meant that farmers are struggling to survive.
This situation has not only impacted the lives of the farmers who have to pay this tax, but also has contributed to the erosion of the dairy industry and its jobs, he said.
The spokesperson said it is not acceptable for EU producers to profit from the tax they are required to pay, which will inevitably be passed on to consumers.
It is a situation which is not sustainable for our economy and our people, he added.
In response to the revelations, Agriculture Minister Richard Bruton has said the new laws would “send a clear message” to European exporters.
“We will ensure that all exporters in Ireland meet EU and national compliance obligations, and will ensure the fair trading environment for all,” he said in a statement.
He added that he will work with the CFMEU to strengthen the rules.
The Irish Dairy Federation said it would also be working with other farmers groups to raise awareness of the new tax measures and that it will raise concerns with the commission.
“There is an urgent need for all Irish exponents to comply with all EU regulations in order to maintain competitiveness, protect the environment and support the Irish economy,” it said.