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EU dairy Policy

30 June 2011

The Commission on Agriculture of the European Parliament does not question the privatisation of the dairy policy, proposed by the Commission as the “mini-package”. The next dairy crisis looms before us.

EU dairy Policy: The Commission on Agriculture of the European Parliament does not question the privatisation of the dairy policy, proposed by the Commission as the “mini-package”. The next dairy crisis looms before us. The compromise reached between European Parliamentary groups led to the text that was adopted by the Commission on Agriculture on June 27th has merely made some corrections to the Commission’s proposal. In no way has it attacked the roots of the dairy crisis, caused by the 2003 & 2008 reforms. Since 2009 the demobilisation of dairy farmers has been a priority. They have been led to believe that their bargaining power would be strengthened, although market continues to be deregulated. But what can the future producer’s groups do faced with the multinational dairy “cooperatives” (1) , with Lactalis, the company that has just bought up Parmalat on June 28th? The dairy industry will remain in control of the contracts with the producers. The fact that the cooperatives, that represent an important percentage of milk traded in Europe, are not concerned by these contracts will further limit the small area over which the groups have any say. This corresponds to a clear move away from a European public dairy policy. It means privatisation, irrespective of whether it is in the hands of “cooperatives” or private sector. Everything is set up at both European and international level (2) to allow the price of milk to fall drastically sooner or later, as it did in 2009. The proposed reform is also opening the door to new destructive crises for dairy farmers and less favoured milk-producing regions. The European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) welcomes the fact that the amendment in favour of supply management for AOP and IGP has been adopted. But why limit it to merely these denominations? All European production should be demand-driven. ECVC wishes to remind the public of their proposal (3) to create compulsory and pluralistic interbranch bodies in the Member States. Their role should be to reach agreement on milk production prices, taking the farmers’ production costs into account. Transparency and readjustment of profit margins within the dairy branch are an indispensable condition for strengthening the bargaining power of the producers. The Institutions of the EU are taking on the heavy responsibility of continuing to deregulate the dairy and agricultural sector. This is in total opposition to the current trend towards regulation that has been in the air since the outbreak of the global crises that are the result of neo-liberal ideology of the end of the 20th century. We cannot afford to wait for the 2014 revision!!!....It is necessary, and the sooner it happens the better, to get started again a public regulation of production, if we are to meet the challenges of the post 2013 CAP and maintain a sustainable family dairy farming that enhances the value of our territories. As the EU Court of Audits stated on the 15 Oct. 2009 (4): “ milk quotas have imposed strict limitations on production but their level proved to be too high for a long period of time compared to the market's capacity to absorb the surpluses..... Efforts should be continued to focus milk production, as a matter of high priority, on meeting the needs of the domestic European market and, in addition, on producing cheeses and other high added value products which can be exported on the world market without budgetary support.” It is urgent for the Commission and the European Parliament to evaluate the economic, social and environmental and territorial impact that would result from the end of the quota system. (1)Dairy cooperatives involved in processing may not be considered as producers’ groups (2) c.f. the book « Europe Laitière » by André Pflimlin, published by France Agricole 2010 (3) http://www.eurovia.org/spip.php?article410 (4) http://eca.europa.eu/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/8034768.PDF Contacts : Isabel Vilalba : + 34 608905444 (ES-PT-EN)- Josian Palach : +33 671344902 (FR)- Xavier Delwarte: +32 (0) 476 42 39 02 (FR-EN)- Gérard Choplin -Bxl team : +32 (0) 473257378 (FR-EN-DE) Marzia Rezzin, Bxl team (IT-FR-EN) + 32 473300156

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