The European Commission is planning to further expand EU support for Europe’s hard-pressed dairy industry.

Normally, EU-approved intervention buying to shore up sales and prices is limited to 30,000 tonnes of butter and 109,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder (SMP) between March 1 and August 31 annually.

Brussels has now proposed extending these intervention purchases to February 2010 and asked EU ministers for authority to extend them until February 2011 “if the market situation so requires”.

Brussels has already bust standard purchasing limits – having bought 81,000 tonnes of butter and 203,000 tonnes of SMP this year. Additional purchases will be subject to tenders.