Spain's Agriculture Minster Elena Espinosa last week unveiled new plans which would devolve control of the country's milk quota system to the autonomous regional authorities, a move designed to make the system easier to handle.
Espinosa said that handing over the day-to-day running of the system to the regional authorities would allow the federal government to free up funds to help the Fondo Español de Garantía Agraria (FEGA) organisation, which will now co-ordinate all the data received from the regions at a national level.
FEGA is already working with the agriculture ministries of the regional governments to ensure a smooth changeover, targeting in particular those companies though most likely to infringe the quota regulations (using data on previous infringements supplied by the Ministry) to ensure that they are inspected regularly by the new competent authorities.
The Ministry is already working on a first draft of the proposal, which will be made available to the various regional authorities and other interested parties. Changes to the draft will then be made to take account of suggestions from these parties, with a final draft expected by the end of the year.
The hope is that the new system will come into force on 1 April 2005, the date from which the annual EU dairy quotas will be fixed.
The Ministry said the new system would better meet the requirements of the Spanish dairy sector, whose fragmented nature meant that local control was likely to be far more effective.