EU – Numerous protests and symbolic demonstrations have been held across Europe by member organisations of the European Milk Board (EMB), to highlight the dairy price crisis.
The protests are part of a day of action run with the slogan “Your policy ruins dairy farmers.”
Farmers took to the streets in their tractors, protest letters were handed in, warning fires lit and balloons let off.
“All the politicians can do is produce hot air!” said Kjartan Poulsen, President of the Danish milk producer organisation LDM.
“To preserve long-term milk production in the EU, though, the right solutions have to be found now. In a few years’ time it will be too late for many dairy farmers.”
“We call on the EU Ministers of Agriculture to discuss the European Milk Board’s Market Responsibility Programme (MRP) at their meeting in the coming week,” said Sieta van Keimpema, President of the Dutch Dairymen Board and Vice-President of the EMB. “Cost-covering milk prices and a flexible crisis instrument are the key to a sustainable dairy industry in the EU.”
Roberto Cavaliere, President of the APL (in Italy), backed this up: “Whenever the milk price falls below production costs we need the option of a voluntary restraint on supply, as provided for in the MRP.
“So long as milk production carries on blithely in times of crisis, the milk price will never stabilise. The major retailers toy with us, and still pay us indecently low prices for our milk. We made people aware of that in Italy today with a big tractor demo outside supermarkets.”
The EMB said that the recent price crisis is not a short-term fluctuation and farms cannot absorb the costs, adding that farm-gate prices in most EU countries are now about 10 to 20 cents below production costs.
The organisation said these prices are the result of a short-sighted policy that is geared only to produce cheap raw materials for export instead of aspiring to sustainable solutions.