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Dairy crisis: the EU Agricultural Council is irresponsible

8 September 2009

The failure of the Agricultural Council of September 7th to resolve the dairy crisis shows that European governments have not yet understood the challenges of this crisis, as we explained in our open letter to the EU of September 1st. It is irresponsible for governments to let the situation deteriorate further – and let more producers commit suicide – under pretext that they cannot reconsider the mistakes made in the health check of 2008 and the reforms of 2003.

The European Commission has been insisting for 20 years that it is necessary for producers to adapt to the market, that they should not produce for intervention. Why then today do they insist on keeping production above demand? Why ask taxpayers to pay hundreds of millions of Euro to store and export these products instead of simply not producing them? Those who claim that the export of our surpluses is a solution are in fact responsible for starving the world.

It is imperative that we cease to produce surpluses. The European Commission knows exactly what percentage reduction is necessary to rebalance the market. This reduction must be proportional to the individual volume of production. Small producers, some of the main drivers of rural development, are not responsible for overproduction.

The mobilization of producers has altered the position of a certain number of governments, even if these governments have not presented sufficient proposals to solve the crisis. Vis-a-vis the irresponsibility of the Council and the stubbornness of the European commission, European Coordination Via Campesina invites milk producers to increase their mobilization and to take all actions necessary to convince the EU to change dairy policy – and convince consumers of the importance of producers being able to do their work and live with dignity.

While the milk industry and large retailers continue to benefit from low prices thanks to the governments of the EU, the latter should perhaps question the image which they give of the EU only a few weeks before an important referendum in Ireland on the EU’s Lisbon treaty. There are more voters than supermarket chains.

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