Their statement says that any partnerships between the EU and West African countries should not go ahead, because they would negatively affect West African operations.
"EU policy-makers must create a crisis instrument that addresses production volume and is binding for all Member States of the European Union," states the EMB appeal.
It has also been signed by the Initiative to Support Dairy Cattle Herders in Burkina Faso (PASMEP), the National Association of Small Dairies in Burkina Faso (UMPL/B), as well as development organizations MISEREOR (the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation) and Germanwatch (an organization dedicated to global equity and the preservation of livelihoods).
Visit to Burkinabe farms
The statement coincides with an ongoing visit by the EMB, European dairy farmers, MISEREOR and Germanwatch to Burkina Faso. The EMB says the trip is an opportunity for European participants to see how milk is produced in the West African country.
Farmers from Tambolo, a small village 170km from the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, produce milk, cultivate soy, broad beans and maize, among other crops. The income from the sale of milk is used to feed their families and pay for their children's education.
One third of the population of Burkina Faso raises cattle. However, according to the EMB, the major import of milk powder from Europe is increasingly putting their livelihood in danger because EU products are on an average half the price of local milk products.
Policies affecting milk producers
The EMB, and other signatories, want Germany and Europe to stop the large-scale overproduction of milk in the EU, as they say that this exerts downward pressure on prices worldwide and erodes the livelihood of farmers.
"Milk producers in Europe and Africa are struggling because of current policies," said Wilhelm Thees, rural development expert at MISEREOR.
"In Burkina Faso, it is the women who produce milk. When this source of income is destroyed, a whole social structure collapses as the women have no alternative and thus no income."
Christoph Lutze, a dairy farmer from northern Germany, said, "In my time in Africa, it has become clear to me that our export-oriented policy is very dangerous for the milk producers here."
Belgian EMB member organization MIG has been active in Burkina Faso for several years. Currently, Belgian dairy farmers, together with Oxfam, are supporting a micro-dairy in Ouahigouya, close to Burkina Faso’s northern border with Mali.
Belgian and African milk producers are also working together on "Fairefaso," a milk that aims to position itself as a sign of locally-made quality on the market, and as a symbol for fair milk prices for local producers.
Arla in Senegal
Recently, Danish dairy company Arla opened its new Dano milk powder packaging facility in Dakar, Senegal.
The new plant, which officially opened May 17, has an annual capacity to handle 5,000 tonnes of milk powder made in Europe from Arla’s farmer owners’ milk.
In 2015, Arla conducted a human rights assessment in Senegal that it says ensures that the company’s activities in Senegal do not bring unintentional negative consequences for the local dairy sector and its related communities.