Over 30,000t of SMP sold from intervention
The volume sold and the price is higher in the latest skimmed milk powder (SMP) tender.

Some 30,067t of skimmed milk powder (SMP) has been sold from European intervention stocks for €1,251/t in the latest tender this week.

The price has risen from €1,231 and is an increase on the 20,033t sold in the last tender at the end of October.

For this tender, no maximum buying-in price was fixed and no stock was bought in.

Read more

Dairy markets: dairy prices improve but little product is trading

'Flextension' – the latest twist to delay Brexit
EU leaders have agreed to different extensions to the Brexit deadline depending on what happens next in the UK.

European heads of Government have rejected British Prime Minsiter Theresa May's request for an extension of the Brexit deadline until the end of June, instead offering two closer dates for the UK to leave the EU formally.

If the House of Commons approves the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the British government and the EU next week, the UK can stay in the EU until a smooth transition begins on 22 May – the day before the European election begins.

'Way forward'

"The European Council agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week," according to the conclusions of the European Council held in Brussels this Thursday. "If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council."

This means that if MPs don't agree to the deal, then their country may crash out on 12 April. However, 12 April is also the deadline for the UK to choose a third option: take part in the European election and stay in the EU for much longer.

Until this date, all options will remain open

"Until this date, all options will remain open and the cliff-edge date will be delayed," said European Council president Donald Tusk. These options include deal, no-deal, a long extension or revoking Article 50 which triggers the UK's exit from the EU, he explained.

The Council has ruled out re-opening talks with the UK on the Withdrawal Agreement. "There is no more that we can give," said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Complicated

Earlier, Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said that the 30 June extension requested by Prime Minister May would have been complicated. Legal advice given to the European Commission said the UK would have to fight the European election if they remained beyond 22 May.

Mairead McGuinness MEP said that if the exit date had been extended to 30 June without the UK holding European elections, the decision would have faced a legal challenge.

Frustration

There was palpable frustration with the lack of clarity in the corridors of Brussels as the summit unfolded, with one commentator comparing the UK with "that friend who slaps their knee and loudly proclaims, 'Right, I'm away,' but then just carries on sitting there".

Additional reporting by Barry Cassidy in Brussels.

Read more

Brexit: what options does Theresa May have?

UK will not source alternative beef and dairy overnight - Hogan

Brexit: fatigue and frustration among EU member states – McGuinness

A brand for green farming and a tax on nitrogen – alternative CAP proposals
Calls for a new REPS and increased access for the organic scheme have emerged as negotiations on the next CAP come to a head.

The EU-wide Agricultural and Rural Convention (ARC2020), which focuses on more environmentally-friendly farming, has made alternative proposals for the next CAP.

"The eco-scheme has lots of potential," said Oliver Moore, who represents ARC2020 in Ireland and lectures at UCC.

"It could be what REPS used to be," he added, although a market premium should be associated with the efforts farmers put in to achieve the standards under this new version of payments.

Do an eco scheme and market food under that brand, paying a 5% premium

"Do an eco scheme and market food under that brand, paying a 5% premium," Moore said, adding that being a member of Origin Green should not be enough to qualify for the scheme.

Under cross-compliance, Moore said spraying permanent pastures with herbicides before reseeding should no longer be allowed.

However, some of the plants being grazed by hardy breeds on hills should be included in the definition of permanent pastures.

Tax on nitrogen fertiliser

Meanwhile, Moore called for a tax on nitrogen fertiliser, "provided it is used to incentivise mixed swards including clover" in an effort to reduce nitrogen losses to water, and to the atmosphere under the form of greenhouse gas emissions.

The ARC2020 representative said the maximum allowable funds should be transferred from direct payments to rural development schemes, especially to "open the organic scheme every year and allow 2,000 farmers in".

A 15-year payment should also support agro-forestry and high nature value farming schemes, such as the one in the Burren, should be extended, Moore added.

European elections

He was speaking at a public event organised by Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan this week.

Speakers said that the agriculture committee of the European Parliament would start voting on the next CAP in two weeks' time.

However, the Irish Farmers Journal understands that the full package won't be ready for voting until April, leaving little chance of a final decision before this year's European elections.

Read more

New tool to help EU farmers to manage nutrients in development

Farmer buy-in key to environmental schemes

Listen: pay farmers to sequester carbon – ‘Ming’ Flanagan

CAP reform delayed until after European elections

UK breeders urged to register societies and animals in EU before Brexit
Breeding societies in the UK, including Northern Ireland, will no longer be automatically recognised by the EU after Brexit, but a window remains open to register animals this month.

Pedigree breeders and breed societies in the UK, including Northern Ireland, should register animals and organisations in the EU if they want to continue trading with Ireland or the continent after a no-deal Brexit, Defra has warned.

As previously reported, UK-based breed societies will need to be listed as an 'approved third country body' with the EU to be able to sell pedigree animals or germinal products across borders.

Defra has now given instructions for this procedure.

"If you are an officially recognised UK breed society that needs to become third country listed, contact Defra at fangr@defra.gsi.gov.uk. Defra will submit your application for listing as a non-EU (third) country breeding body to the European Commission," the department said.

Defra cannot guarantee that third country listing with the EU will happen in time for EU exit

However, "Defra cannot guarantee that third country listing with the EU will happen in time for EU exit".

"To avoid potential delays between the UK leaving the EU and your breed society becoming third country registered, you may want to consider registering your UK animals into EU herd books or flock books before exit day," it advised.

Zootechnical certificates

This is because animals which are registered in EU herd or flock books before 29 March will continue to be eligible for zootechnical certificates required for breeding in the EU.

More specifically, "animals kept on holdings in Northern Ireland which have already been registered with an Irish breed society or studbook will be unaffected".

"The Irish breed society will be able to issue a valid zootech certificate for those animals for trade into the EU," Defra said.

After 29 March, breed societies operating on an all-Ireland basis can still enter new animals born in Northern Ireland into their breeding books based in the Republic if those animals:

  • have a valid UK zootech certificate issued by a third country listed UK breed society, and
  • are moved on to a holding in the Republic (or elsewhere in the EU).
  • "Animals kept on holdings in Northern Ireland which have already been registered with an Irish breed society or studbook will be unaffected. The Irish breed society will be able to issue a valid zootech certificate for those animals for trade into the EU," Defra said.

    No change from Republic into UK

    According to Defra, breeders in the Republic can continue to register their stock into UK herd books in the usual way, without moving the animals to the UK.

    Read more

    No-deal Brexit concerns for pedigree breeders

    Brexit: the reality of trade deals is becoming apparent

    UK farming minister resigns over Brexit vote