Farmers and co-ops demand EU action to prevent new dairy crisis

ACTION to prevent a new EU dairy crisis from emerging is being sought by Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella body for farmers and agri co-ops.

It warned that the EU market is still fragile and the market price does not always cover farmers’ production cost

Copa president Padraig Walshe told the European Parliament Agriculture Committee that producers suffered hugely during the deep EU-wide dairy crisis at the end of 2008, losing close to €10 billion in turnover in 2009. “The EU market is still... dependent on world market demand which could change at any moment. A strong EU policy solution is consequently needed to prevent another crisis from occurring,” he said.

Mr Walshe said some of the recommendations made by the high level group (HLG) on milk on long-term measures for the dairy sector are in line with its views. Urging the MEPs to work with the Commission to transform these into reality, he said tools to manage the market must be maintained to deal with increasing market volatility. Farmers’ share of the retail price has dropped from 31% to 23% over 10 years.

Mr Walshe said Copa-Cogeca supports the recommendation designed to strengthen farmers’ bargaining power in the food chain by allowing them to concentrate supply through co-operatives in particular. Formalised milk delivery contracts, which can be voluntary, would also offer a certain degree of stability and predictability. EU competition rules must also be adjusted, to enable co-ops and other producer organisations to grow and collectively negotiate, giving them a better position in the food chain, he said.

Tommaso Mario Abrate, vice-chairman of Copa-Cogeca’s milk working party said the long-term sustainability of EU milk production will be better achieved through farmer-owned cooperatives. “We are convinced that the HLG recommendations, which recognise the specific role of cooperatives, are a good basis for further actions and urge the EU Commission and MEPs to... formulate legislative proposals this year.”


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