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EDA president lays out political challenges for 2011

By Guy Montague-Jones , 25-Jan-2011

The president of the European Dairy Association (EDA) has spoken up on continued major points of concern in proposed reforms to EU dairy policy.

Speaking at the annual EDA cocktail party last week, Werner Buck said the lobby group would remain focused on the reforms currently being considered at an EU level.

Buck said: “The current proposals on the CAP, the Quality Package and the Milk Package deserve the maximum of our attention now and in the months to come.”

The Milk Package

On the subject of the Milk Package, which sits at the heart of the reform proposals as an answer to the milk producer price crisis in 2009, the EDA is concerned that the focus is too narrow.

“EDA is strongly disappointed that the proposals in the package focus exclusively on relations within the sector and do not work on the recommendations to strengthen the position of dairy products on the market.”

The industry body has already made it clear that it is concerned about the details of the existing proposals, and in particular the measures related to producer organisations and contracts.

In his speech, Buck urged the European Parliament and the European Council not to restrict the role of national competition authorities in reining in the potential market power of producer organisations.

The EDA is concerned that producer organisations could hold significant market power without market responsibility because they do not take delivery of milk. Another issue is that in countries where a lot of milk is tied up in the co-op system, allowing large producer organisations could leave no milk that is free to move. This could weaken the market position of smaller processors.

And on the subject of contracts, Buck reiterated the EDA concern about the clause allowing EU member states to introduce mandatory written formats.

“When mandatory contract formats are introduced on a national level, these will disrupt the EU single market, essential for the EU dairy sector.”

CAP reform and the Quality Package

With regards to the CAP reform agenda, Buck called for caution, advising that direct payments to farmers be maintained to ensure EU agriculture remains competitive.

“Direct payments to farmers should persist to allow farmers to stay competitive on the one hand, and to help them in fulfilling all EU requirements regarding environment, food safety and animal health, on the other.”

Buck added: “For EDA, the CAP should remain a common policy without re-nationalisation.”

And finally in relation to the Quality Package, the EDA is emphasizing the need for consistency – particularly with respect to the different aspects of origin labelling in the Quality Package and the proposal for Food Information to Consumers.