EMB 2019: year in review
Dear dairy farmers, dear interested parties,
An eventful year is coming to an end. We at the EMB wish to take this opportunity to thank you all for the important work you have done over the last 12 months:
Thank you very much to all the farmers for their commitment!
Many thanks to all the consumers supporting us farmers, and
Warm thanks to the policy-makers advocating for a crisis-proof agricultural sector!
In this edition of the newsletter, we would like to stop and take stock of the important, striking events of 2019. Even though the end of the year brings the charming image of Father Christmas, fulfilling wishes and bringing presents, we dairy farmers are well-aware that our wishes and demands for cost-covering prices, which include fair remuneration, will not be granted without a fight. For yet another year, farmers have shown that they are ready to fiercely advocate for their profession and their sector. Not only by working day in, day out on their farms and producing high-quality food, but also by showing a strong political involvement alongside this important work.
Compelling actions by farmers
In January, a border action between Belgium and Germany saw a number of European organisations and farmers coming together to make a strong case for a fair trade policy. Two months thereafter, European dairy farmers and their colleagues from Africa united in Brussels for a memorable action to appeal to the European Commission to reign in overproduction in Europe with a smart crisis instrument. In addition, there were also actions in individual European countries like Switzerland, as well as a ministerial visit to a French farm, where farmers presented a clear picture of what is required for the sector and for future-proof milk production to policy-makers and processors. In Germany, the MEG Milch Board published an important study on supply conditions in the sector and the German dairy farmers' association BDM followed up on farmer protests in October by demanding that the incumbent Minister for Agriculture pushes for a change in agricultural market policy at once. With the aim of greater knowledge and transparency, these two association together with the EMB shall also publish a study on organic milk production costs in Germany from this year on.
The protests and events commemorating the 10th and 11th anniversary of the European milk delivery strikes were also a definite highlight. This event saw more than 600 tractors and over 1000 farmers from all agricultural sectors coming together in Ciney, Belgium at an action organised by MIG. Thousands of consumers and farmers also made their way to Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy for the anniversary action organised by the French association APLI.
Fair milk prices are not impossible. This year, the Fair Milk projects demonstrated this once again in very practical terms in the different EMB member countries. And the progress continues – we are very happy to welcome a new member to the Fair Milk family: "Faireswiss" from the Swiss organisation Uniterre. At this year's Fair Milk Conference, it became clear that this model can be successful not only in Europe, but in African countries as well.
Fair Milk is not the only one to grow: This year, the EMB has also welcomed a new member into its fold. With APROLEP from Portugal, the EMB now represents 21 member organisations, all fighting together for responsible EU production in the dairy sector.
Brussels in focus
In recent months, Brussels was often in the spotlight when it came to political media coverage. Even though there has been clear progress, there were, unfortunately, no ground-breaking reforms in the agricultural sector, which meant eyes from all across Europe were on the EU capital. Firstly, we all followed the process that determined who would represent the EU institutions in the coming years and above all else, who would lead them. The European Parliament was elected and the European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen is also now in place, with Janusz Wojciechowski as the Commissioner for Agriculture. There should now be nothing standing in the way of working on real reform of the agricultural sector to achieve responsible production and full cost-covering prices for producers! The dairy farmers of the EMB will continue to advocate emphatically for the MRP crisis instrument for the dairy market before the concerned policy-makers. The MRP is not only essential to address the current state of chronic instability, it can also act as a buffer for market distortions in the event of drastic events like, for example, Brexit.
We look forward to moving further down this important path in the coming year with all of you, toward a stable dairy sector.
But for now, we wish all of you a wonderful festive season with your family and a restful holiday! Enjoy the well-earned break, and gather strength and energy for the new year. A year in which we will continue our strong political commitment to our families and our farms.
Erwin Schöpges & Sieta van Keimpema