Watch: Back to the drawing board for EU leaders to solve dairy crisis

A meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers yesterday took stock of the agricultural market situation in particular on current difficulties in the milk and pig sectors.

Several Member States expressed their concerns and made clear the market situation in dairy and pigmeat sectors are worrying and need to improve urgently.

The debate will be the base for the formal discussion on this very topic on the March council meeting.

On that occasion, the Agricultural Council will assess the market measures currently in place, and decide what would be an appropriate approach.

European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said there was broad agreement at the Council that the market situation is so difficult that it has to look at measures that can be taken at European and Member State level.

“Council also agreed that there needs to be consideration given to the development of new and innovative measures that can be used to address the current situation in addition to the measures which the Commission has already introduced.”

Member States must submit their ideas by February 25, 2016.

Commissioner Hogan said the Commission will evaluate those ideas and reflect on what more can be done to alleviate the pressure on our European farmers.

“Of course any further measures will have to have regard for the following three parameters: consistent with the legal framework of CAP, within the resource constraints of the budget and command broad support from within the Council of Member States.

“The period between now and the next council provides an opportunity for all of us to intensify our efforts to identify possible solutions to the very difficult situation we find ourselves in,” the Commissioner said.

Hogan was tight-lipped on the French proposal which would see an incentive for farmers to reduce milk production. Only last March the EU abolished milk quotas.

Hogan said he will examine all Member State proposals when they are submitted.

The Council held a debate on animal welfare on the basis of a position paper prepared by the German, Swedish, Danish and Netherlands delegations.

The paper calls for an EU platform on animal welfare to be established for stakeholders and competent authorities. The council broadly supported the establishment of an EU-platform.

Some Member States noted that, given the current high level of EU standards for animal welfare, equal treatment should be ensured for EU and non-EU producers, and that priority should be given to improving the enforcement of existing legislation.

Ministers were also briefed by the Commission on the state of play of international agricultural trade issues and the development of a long-term strategy for agricultural research.