Destination Luxembourg for frustrated Euro milk-makers

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Common agricultural policy European union

Luxembourg will provide the stage for a show of growing discontent among European dairy farmers next week, over concerns about the ongoing reform to the bloc’s agricultural policy.

A spokesperson for lobby group, the European Milk Board, told that a number of farmers will be coming from France, Belgium and Germany to protest over amendments to the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The spokesperson said that the protests reflect farmers’ worries over changes proposed as part of a health check for the CAP reforms, which have removed subsidy payments such as set-aside and other financial support.

The comments come after a week of strikes at dairies across France, which have spread from the West of the country in recent days, highlighting wider concern across the EU over sustainable pricing for milk.

Cost concerns

According to the EMB’s calculations, Farmers currently require €0.40 per litre of milk supplied in order to ensure production can remain sustainable.

However, the group’s spokesperson said that this currently was not the case with current pay rates for milk varying across the bloc.

“It is hard to say how much money farmers are generally receiving, though it is thought to be between €0.30 and €0.33 per litre,”​ the spokesperson stated.

Despite these estimates, the EMB claims that in certain cases in the Netherlands, farmers have been receiving about €0.27 per litre for their milk.

Striking a balance

Despite these farmer concerns, Dr Joop Kleibeuker, head of the European Dairy Association (EDA) told earlier this year that striking a balance in sustainable pricing for all members of the dairy supply chain was the best means of ensuring long-term sustainable production in the sector.

Kleibeuker added that calls from some groups for a fair trade-style scheme for the bloc’s milk farmers could therefore serve only to distort agricultural reforms designed to ensure profitability for everyone in the milk supply chain.

"The ongoing reforms of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have meant that there is no bottom in the market but also no ceiling,"​ he said. "This is the choice we have made inEurope, and we are confident that there is a good future ahead for the entire dairy industry on the world stage."

Farming reforms

Kleibeuker conceded that with the dairy industry now working towards a system where prices paid for milk are defined by market development, costs were likely to be more volatile.

"For farmers supplying milk to the dairy industry and consumers, there are times when it is difficult to cover costs, but there are also moments when it is hard for processors as well,"​ he stated. "We are all working within these developments, so everyone has to cut costs where possible to maintain profit."

Ultimately, Kleibeuker said that the CAP reforms were vital for ensuring farmers could cover costs in a way that ensured value for processors and consumers as well as allowing for future investment.

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