Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Ministers given an almighty boot over milk reform

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Some 1,000 European dairy farmers threw wellies at the Berlaymont building in Brussels last week to protest against reforms proposed by the High Level Group on Milk.

Organised by the European Milk Board and international peasant group La Via Campesina, the farmers threw hundreds of wellies at the building where agriculture ministers were meeting. The farmers also carried placards reading: "Soon you can do the milking yourselves."

The farmers were protesting against the withdrawal of quotas and the need for a better safety net to protect farmers in the event of another dairy price slump.

At a meeting of the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament, the European Milk Board (EMB) warned that safety nets for farmers should be implemented at a realistic level.

"A safety net sounds really good but if the safety net is 21c/L, many farmers are already financially ruined before they reach it," the EMB warned.

European farmers' union Copa-Cogeca urged MEPs to take action to prevent a new dairy crisis from emerging, warning that the EU market remains fragile.

Copa president Padraig Walshe said dairy producers lost close to €10bn in turnover in 2009 as a result of the EU-wide dairy crisis.

"The EU market is still delicate and it is dependent on world-market demand which could change at any moment.

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"A strong EU policy solution is consequently needed to prevent another crisis from occurring," he said.


"In particular, tools to manage the market -- safety net tools -- must be maintained, to deal with increasing market volatility," he added.

"In view of farmers deteriorating share of the retail price which has dropped from 31pc to 23pc over 10 years, Copa-Cogeca supports the recommendation designed to strengthen farmers bargaining power," said Mr Walshe.

"Formalised milk delivery contracts, which can be voluntary, would also offer a certain degree of stability and predictability," he added.

Irish Independent