EU Ministers discuss milk market crisis at Brussels meeting

EU Agriculture Ministers are meeting in Brussels today with discussions on the current crisis in the dairy and pigmeat sectors to be discussed.

As farmgate prices continue to fall in both sectors many EU countries are calling for additional action from the European Commission to help the situation.

The French delegation will present a number of proposals at today’s Council of Ministers meeting.  In the dairy sector, the French proposals include an increase in the floor price at which producers can sell into public storage, an export credit facility, and crucially aid for farmers who cut output when prices fall.

French calls for an increase to intervention prices will be echoed today by the Polish delegation which is also calling for action from the Commission on pigmeat prices.

Thus far Commissioner Hogan has remained resolute in his opposition to raising intervention prices.

He doesn’t believe that such a measure is the right response to what is expected to be a relatively short-term market imbalance, recalling that the co-legislators reconfirmed the intervention price level as recently as 2013.

Hogan said it would send a wrong signal to the marketplace, as operators would not be encouraged to reduce milk production.

According to the Commission even a relatively small increase would bring intervention prices close to the average ‘operating costs’ for some EU dairy farmers, hence creating an additional outlet for their production and moving away from the market orientation that has underpinned the CAP reform process since the 1990s.

The Council will also hold a debate on animal welfare. It will be based on a position paper prepared by the German, Swedish, Danish and Netherlands delegations calling for the establishment of an EU platform on animal welfare for stakeholders and competent authorities.

Furthermore, the European Commission will brief ministers on the state of play on international agricultural trade issues.