EMB Newsletter February 2017
Dear dairy farmers and interested parties,
Our milk powder action on January 23 definitely "stirred things up" - photographs of the powder-dusted Council building did the rounds in the international media. A hundred dairy farmers from all over Europe used this symbolic action to communicate their message to European Agriculture Ministers: Stop selling intervention milk powder and draft a law for a permanent crisis instrument! We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our fellow protestors from Lithuania, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Denmark, and the supporting organisations Via Campesina, Oxfam and SOS Faim as well.
Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan did not comprehend our action and reacted along the lines of: "But milk prices have risen in recent months and the European Commission is managing the sale of milk powder in a responsible manner. So what do those farmers out there want?" The EMB has therefore sent a letter to Commissioner Hogan explaining the reasons for the milk powder protest in detail. This to clarify that Europe's milk producers still have an unsatisfactory market situation.
Through this symbolic action, European milk producers wanted to make it clear to policymakers that we are a long way from cost-covering milk prices and a permanent crisis instrument is also a must to ensure stability on the dairy market. Voluntary production cuts have shown that volume reduction in possible. The Commission must now continue to take decisive action and introduce a permanent crisis instrument so that production can be scaled back in times of crisis (refer to our Market Responsibility Programme).
Though the European Commission has sold only 40 tonnes of skimmed milk powder from public intervention so far, there are however over 350,000 tonnes waiting in the wings, which corresponds to 3,500,000,000 litres of milk. We advocate for the milk powder to be kept off the market as it would ruin the slowly recovering prices. We are also against this milk powder being sent to Africa and destroying local farming structures. Dairy farmers in Europe and Africa need a functioning market!
The EMB is going to continue to fight with all its might for a balanced dairy sector. We will continue with our political efforts and keep a close eye on the European Commission, the Agriculture Ministers and the new President of the European Parliament. Policymakers must create a permanent crisis instrument once and for all! The EMB will continue with its strongly symbolic actions - we are definitely not going to run out of ideas anytime soon!
Erwin Schöpges, EMB Executive Committee member