Dairy farmers from across Europe will take part in a number of demonstrations and actions throughout the month of June to call for increased milk prices for producers.

With today (Tuesday, June 1) being World Milk Day, the European Milk Board (EMB) – an umbrella group made up of dairy farmer representative organisations in different countries – has announced the month-long programme of actions.

Dairy farmers in Belgium and Italy will demonstrate today. Italian producers based in the province of South Tyrol (on the border with Austria) will be “emphasising the need for an economically sustainable milk price”, according to the EMB.

As a prelude to the June actions, German dairy farmers took action last Thursday (May 27), with the dairy farm organisation BDM demonstrating in the city of Bonn at the offices of the country’s competition authority, known in English as the ‘Federal Cartel Office’.

The German dairy farmers were demonstrating under the motto “Look Closely”.

In a statement, the EMB said: “[The] reason for these numerous actions is that the economic survival of many farmers in the EU hangs in the balance – the number of farms is fast dwindling all across the continent.”

The umbrella group claims that data from a forthcoming survey will show that farm managers and family labour in the EU milk sector “are left with a meagre average income that is well below the minimum wage”.

The EMB also highlighted increasing input costs arising from feed and climate change targets.

“The protesting dairy farmers are united by a common experience – very little money actually reaches producers and their farms for the intensive work put in to the production,” the EMB said.

“[The farmers] are launching an urgent appeal to the dairy industry and to policy-makers for significantly better prices for their production,” it added.

The EMB also pointed out that the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) Index and the European butter price have risen in recent months, though farmgate milk prices remain comparatively low.

The planned actions by European dairy farmers this month are as follows:

  • Belgium – June 1;
  • Italy – June 1;
  • France – June 1 (this demonstration has a particular focus on standards for somatic cell count);
  • Norway – June 1;
  • Germany – Jun 11;
  • Switzerland – June 14;
  • Portugal – June (exact date not confirmed).

“Agriculture needs young people to continue producing food. But they need prospects. And prospects can only really be offered with a sustainable milk price that covers costs and ensures profits,” the EMB statement concluded.