‘We did not take to the streets for this’: EMB slams EC dairy support package


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‘We did not take to the streets for this’: EMB slams EC dairy support package

Related tags Dairy farmers European union

The European Milk Board (EMB) has branded the €500m ($558m) EC support package, which includes targeted aid for dairy farmers, "very disappointing."

At an emergency Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting in Brussels earlier this week, the European Commission (EC) presented a €500m “comprehensive package of measures to support European farmers.”

The “most significant part” ​of the package will be provided in targeted financial aid to dairy farmers in all European Union (EU) Member States.

“The Commission is working on a package of targeted aid for all Member States, having particular regard to those Member States which have been most affected by market developments,”​ it said on Monday.

The EMB, which lobbies on behalf of European dairy farmers, has branded the EC support package “very disappointing.”

“This outcome is no solution,”​ ​it said in a statement. “We did not take to the streets for this.”

It joined around 5,000 farmers from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and other EU Member States in Brussels to protest ahead of the Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting. 

During the demonstration, hundreds of tractors filled the streets of the Belgian capital and farmers clashed with riot police. 

Unhappy with what they consider "delaying tactics"​ dairy farmers across the EU will likely "continue with protests,"​ the EMB said.

Targeted aid

In late 2014, the EC provided a €40m support package for dairy farmers in Finland (€10.7m), Lithuania (€14.1m), Latvia (€7.7m) and Estonia (€6.9m) - markets considered to have been "particularly adversely affected"​ by the Russian embargo.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev slapped a one year ban on the import of beef, pork, poultry, fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy products from the EU, United States, Australia, Canada and Norway on August 7 2014.

In June 2015, Russia extended its ban on Western food imports until August 5 2016.

During talks with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, last month, Lithuanian Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevičius, said he was seeking an additional €50m in targeted aid for Lithuanian dairy farmers.

The EC's latest allocation of financial aid to Member States for dairy farmers will be finalized "shortly,"​ the EC said this week. 

Dairy farmers in Finland and the Baltics - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - look likely to benefit most.

The EMB argues, however, that the crisis in dairy sector is "of a structural nature"​ and will "not be solved by the financial aid released by Brussels."

“Farmers from all over Europe did not take to the streets for subsidies, but for a crisis-management instrument, to solve the root cause of the problem – overproduction in the European market,”​ it said.

Private Storage Aid

The EC's decision to extend Private Storage Aid (PSA) for butter and skimmed milk power (SMP) has also come under fire from the EMB.

PSA for butter and SMP - introduced in August 2014 "to alleviate the impact of Russian restrictions"​ - was scheduled to end until September 30 2015.

Between September 8 2014 and July 26 2015, EU Member States offered a total of 115,493 tonnes of butter and 40,874 tonnes of SMP into PSA between - at a cost of €13m to the EC.

An additional 30,302 tonnes of butter and 4,907 tonnes of SMP were offered into PSA by EU Member States between July 27 to September 6. 

“The past months have shown that this measure has practically no effect,"​ the EMB statement continued. "In spite of private warehousing, milk prices are still stuck in a downward spiral.”

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