'The powder was not sold but outright dumped – this price is scandalous': EU farmer leader hits out at intervention milk powder sale

President of the European Milk Board, Romuald Schaber
President of the European Milk Board, Romuald Schaber
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The European Commission sold 4,000t of intervention milk powder in its latest tender. However the price it accepted for the product as sparked severe critism from the European Milk Board (EMB).

The Commission sold 4,337t of SMP out of intervention in the tender with the minimum price accepted understood to be €1,100/t. This was down from €1,190 accepted in the previous tender.

There are now approximately 376,000t of skimmed milk powder in public intervention stocks, effectively overhanging the EU skimmed milk powder market.

"Unfortunately, the powder was not sold but outright dumped – this price is scandalous," said the president of the European Milk Board, Romuald Schaber,which represents some 100,000 milk producers across 15 countries.

"You have the feeling that the Commissioner for Agriculture is trying to get rid of stocks without any concern for the consequences.

"Dumping milk powder in this fashion is very dangerous considering the current market situation and makes conditions even more difficult for milk producers

"Even the minimum price of 215.10 €/100 kg set in December 2016 does not actually correspond to real production value," continues Schaber. "By steadily reducing the selling price to a mere 110 €, policy-makers continue sending the wrong signs," he said.

Mr Schaber said milk prices are already showing a downward trend.

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"German and Belgian dairy farmers have reported a price reduction of about 4 - 10 cents in past weeks. With the projected production increases in coming months, Europe's dairy farmers are heading into the next crisis with their eyes wide open," he warned.

Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan maintained his stance that the EU needs to manage the stockpile well so that it does not drive down the price to the farmer.

He has said the Commission is working with third countries and various schemes are being evaluated to see what can be done to manage the situation.

Last month, the Commissioner warned that there is a real risk of oversupply in the European milk market as a result of high prices this year.

He warned supplies of milk has ‘unsustainably increased’ in some Member States and singled out Ireland, Poland and Netherlands.

The Commissioner also said he had noticed increased production in the largest Member States in recent times particularly France and Germany.

Hogan also warned dairy farmers that they have a “responsibility to look at the market signals and to heed them and to plan accordingly”.

“There is now a very clear risk of oversupply in the market in the EU in milk," he said.

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