Wednesday, April 22, 2009

CAP bonanza for big Irish dairy companies

Figures obtained through a freedom of information request to the Irish Department of Agriculture show that the country's top dairy companies did well in securing CAP money in the form of export refunds and intervention aid.

It was actually Greencore, which owns Irish Sugar, that topped the recipient's list with restructuring funds that amounted to a cool €84m.

However, the Irish Dairy Board received €6.5m, followed by Kerry Ingredients with €5.1m. In third place was the company behind Baileys cream liqueur, R & A Bailey, owned by the drinks giant Diageo, which received €2.9m. It is believed that most of the payments were for export refunds, but that the IDB received money for limited butter intervention in 2008.

Given that dairy markets were relatively strong in 2008, these payments are well down on the levels of 2007 and earlier years. Given the widespread current use of export refunds, the 2009 figures are likely to be significantly higher.

In all cases the companies have defended the payments, claiming that they were a mechanism used to support the milk price to farmers. However, it is unlikely that all the money reached farmers.

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