Recent months have seen images of protesting farmers, tractors blockading dairy plants and retailer boycotts – all as a result of UK processor plans to reduce the price they pay to dairy farmers for their raw milk.
But according to the European Dairy Association (EDA), the “worst is behind us.”
Earlier this year, a number of UK-based dairy processors announced plans to reduce the price they pay to dairy farmers for their raw milk - citing a fall in market returns and a collapse in the value of cream.
In response to the reductions, campaigners Farmers For Action (FFA) targeted Arla Foods, Robert Wiseman Dairies and Dairy Crest. All three have since postponed their planned price cuts.
Farmer-led protests have also taken place across the European Union (EU) and processor milk price criticism continues.
EDA general secretary Dr Joop Kleibeuker told DairyReporter.com that despite the continued scrutiny, raw milk prices have begun to show some signs of recovery.
‘Worst is behind us’
“In the UK it was much more organised than in other European countries, but in certain parts of Europe dairy farmers are in a much worse situation,” said Kleibeuker referring to the UK protests.
“There have been concerns from the industry - including farmers and processors - that this could lead to a similar situation to that experienced in 2008.”
“There have been protests in other countries – even here in Brussels – but it is not on the same scale as those in the UK.”
Kleibeuker claims that since that time, raw milk prices across Europe have shown signs of improvement.
“There are clear indications that raw milk prices are recovering. I’m hopeful that this means the low milk prices are all the recent troubles are behind us.”
“It seems the worst is behind us,” he added.
Despite the improvements and delayed price reductions, the FFA continues to protest in the UK and scrutiny continues over the paid to farmers.
In Sweden, Arla Foods has been subject to some criticism over the price it pays for its raw milk supply. But according to Arla, it is just not possible to pay farmers any more for their milk.
“If we were to raise the price paid for milk to dairy farmers, we would run the company at a loss,” said Arla Sweden CEO Christer Alberg at a recent meeting.
Despite his optimism, Kleibeuker has also warned that the coast isn’t clear for everyone – some could still find themselves subjected to price reductions.
“Powdered milk prices are down at the moment, which means the prices paid to the farmers that directly supply powdered milk producers are down,” said Kleibeuker.
“On the other hand, those delivering milk to cheese producers may be getting a better price. The price differs depending on the type of products being produced from the milk. The effect on the farmers differs,” he added.