EU dairy farmers warn of 'shrinking' producer margins

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/Simon Skafar
GettyImages/Simon Skafar

Related tags Dairy Producer farming Milk Agriculture Strategy

Two farmer organizations have expressed ‘great concern’ over the state of EU production systems.

In an open letter, the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) and the European Milk Board (EMB) have urged EU lawmakers to adopt an agricultural model that can guarantee the security of food supply irrespective of internal or external crises. “If such action is not taken, empty shelves and food shortages as well as the associated negative consequences will become part of our daily lives,”​ the letter warned.

The signatories blame the orientation of the EU’s agricultural policy, which favors ‘cheap products and cheap exports, major trade liberalisation, global dependence and internal deregulation,’ the farmers wrote. “Multinational companies capitalize on this orientation, which also translates into massive dependence and weakens the autonomy of farms and of the EU - a potentially fatal blow for the economic and social situation of farmers.”

The farmers argued that the result of this is shrinking producer margins, adding that in dairy alone, the average EU income per hour for farmers is €4.19, with Dutch producers unable to generate any positive income compared to Germany (€6) and France (€3).

"A robust, comprehensive production structure would avoid production becoming concentrated in a small number of locations and thus the unhealthy industrialization of agricultural production,”​ the letter continued. “For the dairy sector…, we need different objectives and a different functioning of the CDG Milk and the milk market observatory, which really need to actively work on a balanced and fair redistribution of added value and which should not just continue to passively observe the distortions from afar."

Involving producers

To improve the situation, the signatories want producers to be at the heart of the development of agricultural strategies, and be afforded the tools to achieve sustainability targets, expanding this to short circuits, fair trade and collective catering. "Instead, these objectives have been simply placed before them and they have been left to bear the entire burden of these strategies,"​ wrote the signatories.

Price dumping

The farmers have also called for the EU to reduce its dependence on imports and ‘damaging cheap exports’ by exclusion agricultural products from WTO and free trade agreements in order to protect producers. “A responsible EU trade policy would completely disallow the dumping of cheap products on sensitive markets,​” the farmers stated.

The letter has been sent to European Commission representatives, members of the European Parliament, representatives of European Economic and Social Committee, and national ministers for agriculture.

DairyReporter approached the European Commission for comment. An EU official only responded: "We can confirm the receipt of the letter and we will reply in due course."

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