High Level Milk Group Fails To Deliver?

EU - The High Level Group on Milk has put forward recommendations for the EU dairy sector, which have been slammed by the European Milk Board (EMB) as "way off the target" and "unacceptable".
calendar icon 16 June 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

The group made seven recommendations to the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacion Ciolos on how the milk market situation in the EU can be improved.

These recommendations included:

  • Contractual relationships between milk producers and milk processors: Enhancement of formal written contracts, made in advance, to cover deliveries of raw milk.

  • Collective bargaining power of producers: Possible proposal for provision to allow producer organisations constituted by dairy farmers to negotiate jointly their contract terms, including price, with a dairy.

  • The possible role of interbranch organisations in the dairy sector: Examination of whether any of the current provisions for interprofessional organisations in the fruit & vegetables sector could also be applicable in the dairy sector.

  • Transparency in the dairy supply chain: Further elaboration of the European Food Price Monitoring Tool, and a look at the provision of more information (e.g. on volumes of dairy products) by EUROSTAT & national statistics offices.

  • Market measures and futures: Consideration of "green box compatible" instruments to reduce income volatility, including possibly facilitating the use of futures markets, in particular via targeted training programmes.

  • Marketing standards and origin labelling: Ongoing Commission work on labelling should consider the feasibility of different options for "place of farming" labelling for dairy products and should seek distinct labelling for imitation dairy products.

  • Innovation and research: Improvement in communicating existing possibilities for innovation and research within the existing framework of Rural Development and research framework programmes. Stakeholders should define clear research priorities for the dairy sector in order to allow better coordination of national & Community research programmes.

The President of the European Milk Board (EMB), Romuald Schaber said: “The recommendations made to the European Commission by the HLGM cannot improve either the milk producers’ situation or that of consumers in Europe”.

“There’s nothing to stop contracts being concluded right now. It is just that the producers’ weak position in the market prevents those contracts being fair to them. And nothing will alter that in the future either, as long as the producers’ have no effective clout in the market. It is imperative that a new system be introduced that gives the milk producers the opportunity to jointly adjust production to the demand for milk."

Vice-President of the EMB from the Netherlands, Sieta van Keimpema said that two positive points of the report included the strengthening of the legal basis for producer organisations as well as improved labelling.

“Everything else is way off the target of stable milk production at fair prices, and is unacceptable."

The High Level Group on Milk was set up October 2009 in the wake of last year's dairy crisis, with the purpose of discussing mid-term and long-term arrangements for the dairy sector given the expiry of dairy quotas in 2015.

The full report will be published here shortly.

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