The European Milk Board (EMB) recently held its biannual general assembly, with producers from 13 European milk-producing countries present.

The assembly was an entirely digital event this year, with the long-term survival of European milk production the main topic of discussion.

European milk production

During the assembly, the fact that only 5% of producers in the EU are below the age of 35 was highlighted, and only 14% are between 35 and 44 years old – which projects a grim future for the European milk production sector.

The assembly then highlighted the fact that the trend is further exacerbated by the price received by milk producers for their products – as many countries are well below production costs.

The dairy farmers attending the virtual assembly were presented with figures from a cost study, with the results of this study soon to be published.

This study paints a very representative picture of the current situation, in addition to providing EU average production costs, according to the EMB.

The study also shows that in the eight milk-producing countries it covers, current incomes are limiting future prospects.

Increasing costs and climate crisis

The assembly highlighted that while the milk price has, for all intents and purposes, remained stagnated, the cost of feed and climate change mitigation are increasing production costs on farms.

The assembly noted that the environmental and climate crisis is a cross-generational challenge, which farmers are already facing on their farms.

The EMB president Sieta van Keimpema stated: ”It is important to ensure that the costs of mitigation actions to deal with these crises are not simply passed on to producers.

“The European Green Deal and its Farm to Fork Strategy outline comprehensive measures, but it does not talk about how they will be funded.”

Keimpema went on to state: ”Many farmers, young and old, feel that producers are placed at the margins of this strategy.”

The EMB members at the general assembly concluded by stating “they need to, and want to” advocate even more vociferously for a “holistically future-proof and generationally-fair agricultural sector”.

All members of the assembly agreed that young farmers are the future, and stated: ”The EMB will work more closely with them to ensure cost-covering agricultural prices.”