Milk Producers and Human Rights

LUXEMBOURG - Milk prices in Luxembourg are in free-fall. Whereas a year ago milk producers were still being paid 42 cents a litre, many are now getting only 30 cents.
calendar icon 27 February 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

The EU Commission is reacting with export subsidies, which is coming in for heavy criticism from the Luxembourg dairy farmers and various human rights organisations, says the European Milk Board.

The export subsidies mean that European surplus volumes of milk are being shoved onto the world market, causing farmers in developing nations to suffer, as they are unable to compete with cheap EU exports.

“TransFair- Minka” President Jean-Louis Zeien was quite blunt at the press conference: “Have the political decision-makers forgotten that we have just been through a food crisis? What we should be doing is lending a helping hand to farmers in the developing nations, instead of flooding them with cheap milk.” Zeien went on to advocate coherency of thinking behind agricultural and cooperation policy.

The Luxembourg Dairy Board (LDB) calls for flexible control of volumes. Supply, it says, must be geared to demand. The current quota system was too rigid. Fredy de Martines, a Member of the Board of the LDB, stressed that the dairy farmers were prepared to produce less in order to guarantee price stability.

He compared the situation in agriculture to that of other sectors: “In times of crisis ArcelorMittal doesn’t produce any steel that no-one is buying.” De Martines wished Minister of Agriculture Fernand Boden more courage to resist the EU Commission’s proposals.

In a survey commissioned by the dairy farmers, 77 per cent of the farmers surveyed were in favour of controlling production and against the free market the EU Commission has in mind from 2015. As the dairy farmers see it, a free market is synonymous with dramatically fluctuating prices.

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