European protests show ‘desperate’ situation of dairy farmers -EMB

Protests by dairy farmers in Europe are highlighting the challenges facing milk producers reports the European Milk Board (EMB).

Only an overhaul of the system can stabilise the dairy market, dubious solutions will only distract from the real problem, it says.

A milk price as low as 25c/l is forcing producers out onto the streets, according to the EMB and the situation has occurred as a result of oversupply created by policies banking on exports, it says.

The situation was highlighted by Sieta van Keimpema, Vice-President of the EMB.

“The current system and the current policy have failed, plunging European dairy farmers into the abyss.”

The EMB also says that if the problem is only countered by half backed measures it will only add further to the milk price misery. Half backed measures will only deceive the general public and producers in the short term with what may appear as a solution.

Such dubious proposals include an increase of the intervention price without the associated cuts in production, questionable price agreements as well as unrealistic export strategies, it says.

The volume produced in the market exceeds demand and is having a negative impact on prices which are down to rock-bottom.

“It is the same in every EU country. Putting the blame on individual countries or farmers is wrong, because they are all struggling with the same problem,” said Sieta van Keimpema.

Those steering this blame strategy are only distracting from the real problem and showing how little they care about a serious solution, says the EMB.

When excess volumes cause the price to collapse, EU production must be adapted to counter the threat to dairy farmers’ livelihoods throughout Europe, it says.

Reducing the volume in times of crisis takes the pressure off the markets and makes for higher prices.

Dairy farmers will not cut their production individually so a collective instrument like the Market Responsibility Programme (MRP) must be used. This ensures that the reduction is fairly distributed among producers with every producer benefiting from fair prices, it says.

The EMB also reports that artificially propping up the price would only stimulate production and make the situation worse.

One-off campaigns such as that implemented by the French dairy industry, where a price rise from below 30c/L to 34c/L of milk was agreed will only be a superficial solution as the market situation is ignored.

The EMB says the only solution will lie with the EU Commission, Council and Parliament putting a crisis mechanism in place that focuses on volumes and market conditions to allow producers and dairy farmers to be paid a fair price.

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