Today’s Council of EU Agriculture Ministers meeting in Luxembourg will hear the demands of EU Minister of Agriculture around possible solutions to the current dairy crisis.

While it may be overshadowed by the UK’s Brexit vote last Thursday, the possibility of dairy voluntary supply control measures will be discussed.

France, Germany and Poland have all been vocal to date around the possibility of voluntary supply controls to help solve the ongoing issues in the dairy markets.

It is expected that the three, and possibly Italy, will be pushing for some form of financial incentive to encourage a reduction in milk supply.

However, the European Commission and EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has said repeatedly that EU funding will not be used to incentivise farmers to reduce production.

The idea of voluntary supply control measures was top of ICMSA’s agenda at last week’s Dairy Forum in Dublin, but was rejected outright by both the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, and the other stakeholders at the Forum.

ICMSA President John Comer said an EU-wide voluntary supply reduction programme, which would pay farmers a set amount per litre of milk reduced on 2016 production compared to their 2015 figures, is necessary.

The voluntary nature of it, he said, is key.

“This is a key point and one which those against this policy are choosing to ignore: a farmer who wishes to expand is perfectly free to do so but there would equally be those who feel that they can no longer actually lose money producing milk – as is currently the case – and who would welcome the opportunity to cut production temporarily till the supply overhang had been worked through and some stability and potential returned to the position of dairy farmers.

“For milk prices to recover quickly, the supply/demand balance needs to be improved quickly and ICMSA firmly believes that farmers across the EU would reduce supplies – if incentivised to do so – which would, in turn, lead to improved milk prices.”