The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said yesterday that Ireland exceeded its milk deliveries quota for the 2014/15 season, which ended on March 31, by an estimated 4.34%.
EU milk quotas, introduced in 1984 as a temporary measure to address the issue of over production, ended on March 31 - the last day of the 2014/15 season.
Under the system, EU Member States were issued two national quotas – one for milk deliveries to processors and the other for direct sales at farm level. Those that exceeded either were issued a fine, called a superlevy, of €27.83 per 100kg.
While above quota, the 4.34% quoted represents a "significant improvements in production management" since October 2014 when Ireland was an estimated 7.15% over quota.
"While this end of year figure is still only an estimate, it appears that farmers have continued to make substantial efforts of the last number of months to manage their supplies," said Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
"Unfortunately however, this end of year over production still represents a superlevy bill of approximately €69m," he continued.
Ireland's preliminary output estimate, which takes into account relevant buttermilk adjustments, is based on returns to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by Irish dairy cooperatives.
Final production figures will not be confirmed until August, said Coveney.
Pay in instalments
Eight EU Member States, including Ireland, were issued superlevies in October 2014 for exceeding their 2013/14 milk quotas.
Ireland, which overshot its deliveries quota by 0.6%, was ordered to pay just over €10m.
The final round of milk quota superlevies will likely be announced in October.
Offending farmers in EU Member States that exceed their quotas will be given the option of paying their fines in three interest-free instalments.
"This is the very last superlevy bill that Irish farmers will face," said Coveney. "The facility for farmers to pay the bill in instalments, as announced by Commissioner Hogan, will help them to deal with the cash flow challenge."
"My Department is currently finalising the implementation details and I will be making a further announcement in this regard very soon."