Dairy state aid pilot scheme welcomed

February 22, 2019

Dairy Industry Ireland, the Ibec group representing Ireland’s dairy processing industry, has warmly welcomed the confirmation by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D today, that the European Commission has given State Aid approval in DII member Carbery, for product diversification capital investment.

Commenting on the announcement, Director of Dairy Industry Ireland Conor Mulvihill said: “We have worked closely with colleagues in Food Drink Ireland and Ibec central since the referendum with government to push for this type of state aid flexibility from Europe to enable us meet the Brexit challenge head on.”

DII quickly identified the specific exposure of cheddar to Irish industry and finalized a study of various Brexit scenarios in 2017 which was delivered to government.

Mr. Mulvihill continued: “Our studies showed a tariff exposure of the region of €155m and also showed we were at risk of losing up to 90% of trade volumes in cheddar to the UK in the event of a no deal brexit.

“With cheddar forming the vast bulk of our cheese manufacturing base, hovering over 2 billion liters of milk from Irish farmers, it was clear that our member processors would have to engage in radical diversification actions to mitigate this clear threat for their businesses and their farmer suppliers.

“Dairy Industry Ireland will be working to ensure other member processors will be able to avail of these flexibilities in the future.

“We wish to thank DAFM and DEBI officials as well as Ministers Creed and Humphreys, for their continued positive engagement with EU commission officials including Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan and Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager.

“We strongly urge and continue to work with government to pull every lever possible to protect the sector- robust actions such as; financial instruments, tariff rebates, loans, activation of EU schemes such as aid for private storage and intervention, export supports and training funding all need to be put in place to mitigate the effects of a potential ‘cliff edge’ no deal.