EMB Disappointed With EC Proposals

EU - The European Commission has published its proposals concerning the reform of the EU dairy policy. Romuald Schaber, President of the European Milk Board expresses his disappointment at the lack of effective instruments to aid the milk market.
calendar icon 23 December 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

At first glance one might think that a fresh wind is blowing in Brussels. There is talk of an imbalance of power within the food chain and the necessity to strengthen the position of producers.

The EU Commission demands that producers are given the opportunity by the competition law to bundle themselves. These are good approaches. Unfortunately these proposals are, however, not far-reaching enough. If these instruments were implemented as proposed, producers would still not have the strength to influence the produced milk volume. A demand-oriented supply is, however, a prerequisite for cost-covering producer prices and has more positive effects on agriculture in Europe than expensive measures funded with taxpayers’ money such as interventions, export subsidies or emergency payments.

Even a massive extension of direct payments for disadvantages regions could never suffice to compensate the massive loss of dairy farms due to low producer prices. That is why we will continue to organise meetings in Brussels and at the national level, present the position of milk producers in different ways and increase our cooperation with other groups from civil society.

In Canada milk producers are able do without direct state payments. Due to their “supply management” system that is supported by the state Canadian farmers can obtain cost-covering prices on the market. Consumers can rely on fair and stable shelf prices.

The EU should by no means try to push European dairy products onto the Canadian market with the help of the planned trade agreement between the EU and Canada. It would be more useful to adapt the volume in Europe to the demand sold at cost-covering prices as well.

The year 2010 was quite turbulent. Milk producers were in Brussels, Strasbourg, Paris, and in many other places to show the public and in particular policy-makers what the situation on the farms is like and which kind of political framework is required. Milk producers in Denmark and Sweden have fallen on particular hard times. Many producers had to abandon their farm or are so heavily indebted, that there is hardly a way out. In Switzerland we can follow the failure of the interbranch organisation, the increase of butter mountains, and the decrease of producer prices “live”. There is, however, also good news. For example from Austria where the Fair Milk gained market shares and more and more milk is bundled by farmers and marketed independently by the Freie Milch Austria. In Germany and Belgium the Fair Milk was launched successfully.

Contacts to policy-makers in Brussels and in the EMB countries were increased tremendously and the EMB and its member organisations have become in the meanwhile an important partner at many levels when milk is concerned.

The positive approaches at the political level should encourage us to gain new momentum for the next year to lead the projects that we have begun to success.

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