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MILK-NEWS

http://www.europeanmilkboard.org

Dear Dairy Farmers and Interested Parties,

As a taste of what is to come in 2013, I would like to report briefly on the Advisory Group Milk meeting in December last year. The entire dairy sector is represented in this working group in Brussels, tasked with discussing the situation in European milk markets with the European Commission. 

Two interesting studies were presented to the group that I feel are worthy of mention. In the first one, a consultancy firm analysed developments in the international milk market. It forecasts a global increase in milk production of 2.6 per cent by 2016, i.e. in China by 14.5 billion kilos of milk, in India by 30.5 billion, in the USA by 8 billion and in the EU by about 5.5 billion. So, altogether over 60 billion kilos of milk more on the world market.

The representatives of the consultancy firm were evidently very pleased that this will make milk prices the world over converge. That has to happen to enable the EU to maintain its position in the world market, they say. And demand in China is absolutely essential for this. When I pointed out that to my knowledge China will soon be self-sufficient in milk, they agreed. China will very soon be a key player in the dairy produce market. What that means for milk prices worldwide and in Europe, we can imagine.  

But we were to receive even more “good news”. The European Commission presented the development of margins in the dairy sector. Since 2007, operating costs for the EU 15 member states have gone up by 20 per cent, the price of milk has remained the same and margins have fallen by 30 per cent.  

A 30 per-cent drop in margins! A great success for the advocates of milk market deregulation. They can be happy with their lobbying. The EMB was severely critical of these results, of course. Our warnings of the consequences of the “soft landing” for milk producers should have been taken seriously. They were not, sadly. On top of that the dairy industry and the milk trade made it clear that they will not let anything stand in their way to the deregulated milk market. The market must be open, they say. Investments have already been made.

Yet everyone knows that the reason for low milk prices is overproduction. As it is already easy to see that overproduction will be the future of the milk market, if I were an MEP or European Commission official I would give the situation a good rethink. Do I vote for market deregulation, which brings nothing but anarchy to the milk market and decimates the European milk producers, or do I use my head?

I say: try the latter. The first option has done no good and will not do us citizens and farmers in the EU any good in the future. The EMB with its vision for the market and milk policy has been right all along. The analyses of the EU in the Advisory Group give us even more reason to continue pressing ahead vigorously with our demands in 2013. That I promise you. 

Sieta van Keimpema (Vice President of the EMB)

Study on costs of milk production: press conference at Green Week in Berlin

The European Milk Board and the MEG Milch Board have issued an invitation to a joint press conference on 17 January at 13.00 hours during International Green Week (IGW) in Berlin. They will be presenting the innovative concept and results of a scientific study to evaluate the costs of milk production in Germany.

 

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren der Fachpresse,

die aktuelle Situation der Milcherzeuger in Deutschland ist bedrohlich. Der zurzeit ausbezahlte Milchpreis deckt in der Regel die Kosten der Produktion nicht. Die damit verbundenen Verluste sind für viele milchproduzierenden Landwirte und ihre Familien existenzgefährdend. So hat sich alleine in den zurückliegenden fünf Jahren die Zahl der Milchviehbetriebe um mehr als 15 Prozent verringert.

read more...

Demonstration in Berlin: We’ve had enough!

Numerous farming, environmental and consumer organisations are calling on members and sympathisers to join a huge demonstration in Berlin on Saturday, 19 January 2013. Their demand is that fair rules are applied worldwide to promote family farming, instead of agricultural markets being further deregulated. There must be an end to speculating on food and land, as well as to the EU export drive. The demonstration will also focus on environmental issues and genetic engineering. The ARC2020 network, to which the EMB belongs, and the two EMB member organisations in Germany, BDM and AbL, are actively involved in organising the demo.     

read more...

Once upon a time in a country in the EU...

Estonian farmers find EMB strategy very interesting and are sceptical about planned increase in volumes in Estonia.

Were it not for the language and the strangely beautiful landscape of Estonia, you might think you were in any EU country. The number of dairy farms in Estonia is likewise on the decline. Small farms in particular are increasingly vanishing from the scenery. Here, too, fewer and fewer people are working in agriculture, and the farm-gate price is a major headache for producers: at present it is 30 cents (3.4% protein/4.0% fat).

read more...

Turning the tables for a change: BDM seeks the MEPs out in their constituencies

On 14 December last year, the milk producers of the German EMB member organisation BDM paid a simultaneous visit nationwide to the German MEPs to hand over a resolution. This campaign drove home the message the BDM dairy farmers had already sent out with the tractor rally and demonstration in Brussels: when the general conditions for the future agricultural and milk market policy are laid down in Brussels in the next few months, the Common Agricultural Policy has to be totally overhauled.

Experience of dealing with politicians has shown the BDM that it has to put its arguments forward time and again, and engage with politicians. In this way the dairy farmers intend to make the voters back home aware of the work and voting patterns of the MEPs in Brussels.

read more...

Sour milk from Brussels

On 11 December last year, the German daily newspaper taz’s website had an article worth reading by journalist Knut Henkel on the free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia. The article makes it clear that the surplus production of milk in the EU has consequences that are equally bad for the economic situation of farmers in Europe and in other parts of the world.

“In the end, free trade agreements do not facilitate trade per se; instead they are dictated by the powerful nations. In this way the world is practically divided up anew into trade areas and spheres of influence, with the small companies, traders and farmers being trampled underfoot”, says the trade unionist responsible at CUT for international relations.

read more...

Milk: from myth to mass-produced goods

In Germany the Oekom publishing house has brought out a new book about milk. In it the author, Andrea Fink-Kessler, relates the fascinating and eventful history of milk – from its mythological beginnings, when milk was exclusively the preserve of the gods, through the industrialisation of production to the renaissance of raw milk and handcrafted cheese.   

The book gives a very good overview of the history of European milk production and processing, and how over the centuries this shaped the life of people in both rural and urban areas. Anyone whose work today has something to do with milk will certainly discover a number of facts relating to milk of which s/he was not aware.

read more...

EMB Calendar

Please find below some of the most important events in January 2013:

  • 09.01.: Meeting with the Spanish Minister for Agriculture in Madrid

  • 14.01.: Lecture at the Semex Dairy Conference in Glasgow, Scotland

  • 17/18.01: Meeting of the Executive Committee

  • 17.01.: Press conference at the Green Week in Berlin to present the study on the full costs of production

read more...

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Full Texts

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Study on costs of milk production: press conference at Green Week in Berlin

The European Milk Board and the MEG Milch Board have issued an invitation to a joint press conference on 17 January at 13.00 hours during International Green Week (IGW) in Berlin. They will be presenting the innovative concept and results of a scientific study to evaluate the costs of milk production in Germany.

 

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren der Fachpresse,

die aktuelle Situation der Milcherzeuger in Deutschland ist bedrohlich. Der zurzeit ausbezahlte Milchpreis deckt in der Regel die Kosten der Produktion nicht. Die damit verbundenen Verluste sind für viele milchproduzierenden Landwirte und ihre Familien existenzgefährdend. So hat sich alleine in den zurückliegenden fünf Jahren die Zahl der Milchviehbetriebe um mehr als 15 Prozent verringert.

Um die ausgezahlten Erzeugerpreise realistisch bewerten und über Preise verhandeln zu können, ist es notwendig, die Kosten der Produktion zu kennen.

Vor diesem Hintergrund hat das European Milk Board zusammen mit der MEG Milch Board eine wissenschaftliche Studie zur Beurteilung der Milcherzeugungskosten in Deutschland in Auftrag gegeben. Deren Ergebnisse werden erstmalig anlässlich der Internationalen Grünen Woche 2013 in Berlin vorgestellt. Über die Ergebnisse und das Konzept möchten wir Sie exklusiv im Rahmen einer Pressekonferenz informieren.

Wir laden Sie deshalb recht herzlich zu unserem IGW Pressetreff am Donnerstag, 17.01.2013 um 13:00 Uhr auf dem Messegelände  – Halle 6.3, ­Pressezentrum Raum B  – ein.

Über Ihre Teilnahme würden wir uns sehr freuen. Sie erleichtern uns die Organisation, wenn Sie uns Ihre Teilnahmewünsche mit beiliegender Telefax-Antwort oder unter folgendem Onlinelink mitteilen: www.agro-kontakt.de/gruene-woche/emb-mmb/de/.

Best regards,

 

Silvia Däberitz                                                    Dr. Ute Zöllner     

Press Officer                                                       Press Contact

European Milk Board                                           MEG Milch Board

 

Silvia Däberitz (EMB)

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Demonstration in Berlin: We’ve had enough!

Numerous farming, environmental and consumer organisations are calling on members and sympathisers to join a huge demonstration in Berlin on Saturday, 19 January 2013. Their demand is that fair rules are applied worldwide to promote family farming, instead of agricultural markets being further deregulated. There must be an end to speculating on food and land, as well as to the EU export drive. The demonstration will also focus on environmental issues and genetic engineering. The ARC2020 network, to which the EMB belongs, and the two EMB member organisations in Germany, BDM and AbL, are actively involved in organising the demo.      

This is the organisers’ explanation of the reasons for the demonstration: “Agriculture in Germany, Europe and the world over is in a state of transformation. Key measures are to be taken in 2013. In the EU they will decide whether to support sustainable family farming or to carry on giving away 60 billion euros a year in agricultural subsidies, primarily to the industry. We respect the work people do every day on their farms. The reforms have to concentrate on them!”

The EMB calls on all its members to come to Berlin on 19 January 2013 and demonstrate for family farming with fair rules the world over.

Christian Schnier (EMB)

>

Once upon a time in a country in the EU...

Estonian farmers find EMB strategy very interesting and are sceptical about planned increase in volumes in Estonia.

Were it not for the language and the strangely beautiful landscape of Estonia, you might think you were in any EU country. The number of dairy farms in Estonia is likewise on the decline. Small farms in particular are increasingly vanishing from the scenery. Here, too, fewer and fewer people are working in agriculture, and the farm-gate price is a major headache for producers: at present it is 30 cents (3.4% protein/4.0% fat).

Despite the sobering facts, the Estonian Ministry of Agriculture still believes in increasing the volume of milk produced after the deregulation of the milk market. Exports to Russia, Lithuania, Latvia and Finland are to carry on rising, as the ministry is talking of a million tons after 2015 instead of the previous 692,000 tons. On that point, too, one could imagine being in any other EU nation. With its plans for expansion the Estonian Ministry of Agriculture is no different from those of many other EU states. In Ireland they want to produce 50% more, in Germany 15% and in Denmark 20 per cent more after 2015. The list of EU states announcing increases in volumes is also growing. All in all surplus volumes that cannot reasonably be expected to be absorbed by demand. Increases in production will cause the price to collapse.

And just like their European colleagues, many Estonian milk producers are very worried about the future of milk. The Central Union of Estonian Farmers (CUEF) does not think the Ministry of Agriculture’s strategy is of any help to farmers. When the EMB visited Tallinn, the capital, the Estonian organisation founded in 1990 was sceptical about the government’s plans. On the other hand, President Juhan Särgava found the EMB strategy based on a monitoring agency very interesting. The organic dairy farmer is very concerned about the massive increases in volumes and welcomes honest ideas on how to stabilise the market.

Silvia Däberitz (EMB)

>

Turning the tables for a change: BDM seeks the MEPs out in their constituencies

On 14 December last year, the milk producers of the German EMB member organisation BDM paid a simultaneous visit nationwide to the German MEPs to hand over a resolution. This campaign drove home the message the BDM dairy farmers had already sent out with the tractor rally and demonstration in Brussels: when the general conditions for the future agricultural and milk market policy are laid down in Brussels in the next few months, the Common Agricultural Policy has to be totally overhauled.

Experience of dealing with politicians has shown the BDM that it has to put its arguments forward time and again, and engage with politicians. In this way the dairy farmers intend to make the voters back home aware of the work and voting patterns of the MEPs in Brussels. Even before the BDM day of action in mid-December 2012, the German MEPs were informed in writing of the dairy farmers’ intention to hand over to them a resolution on the issues referred to above. Some of the reactions to this were quite interesting. Generally speaking the BDM delegations were well received in the MEPs’ offices, but there were some who patently had little experience of so much direct contact with the public.

The initial reaction of many MEP offices to receiving the letter of announcement was astonishment. They felt it was most unusual for MEPs to be approached directly en masse in their constituencies. A number of constituency offices also asked: “What exactly do you want? We do our political work in Brussels.” Not every MEP was thrilled at the prospect of engaging with the dairy farmers in their constituencies.

However, regardless of whether individual MEPs agreed to or refused a visit from the dairy farmers, they were all informed of the dairy farmers’ situation and proposals. The BDM will continue with this strategy. It will seek dialogue not only in Brussels, Berlin and state capitals, but also in the constituencies.

Hans Foldenauer (BDM)

>

Sour milk from Brussels

On 11 December last year, the German daily newspaper taz’s website had an article worth reading by journalist Knut Henkel on the free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia. The article makes it clear that the surplus production of milk in the EU has consequences that are equally bad for the economic situation of farmers in Europe and in other parts of the world.

“In the end, free trade agreements do not facilitate trade per se; instead they are dictated by the powerful nations. In this way the world is practically divided up anew into trade areas and spheres of influence, with the small companies, traders and farmers being trampled underfoot”, says the trade unionist responsible at CUT for international relations. “We as workers are not against trade agreements, because goods should and must be exchange;, what we criticise is the unequal terms. In countries like the USA and Japan and in the EU, farmers are systematically subsidised. You don’t have that system in Colombia – so goods are traded under unfair conditions and our farmers are feeling that”, says the 61-year-old workers’ representative.

One example is Colombia’s dairy farmers. On the Sabana de Bogotá, the plateau around Colombia’s capital city, there are numerous villages that rely on agriculture. The farmers often have just a few hectares of land, keep a few cows, and live by selling the milk and the crops. That will not go on for long, though, because prices of fresh milk are falling in Bogotá and other towns and cities in Colombia. The dairies are preparing for the EU milk flood, say critical parliamentarians like Jorge Robledo of the Polo Democratico Alternativo. And they are right, for the implementation of the free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia opens up a new market for millions of litres of milk to EU farmers. To be precise, sixty million litres of milk per annum that can be imported tax-free into the Latin American country - in the form of milk powder and higher-value products, according to Brussels. From an EU perspective it is evidently irrelevant that this jeopardises the livelihood of some 500,000 Colombian dairy farmers. The oversupply of local milk and butter must vanish, which is why subsidised milk is bought and processed into milk powder and exported to countries where sometimes the dairy sector was only created with development aid in the first place - in India, for instance, as well as in Colombia.

That is unfair, according to Alejandro Pedraza, a trade unionist from the international agricultural workers’ trade union UITA. The average Colombian cow just cannot compete with the European high-tech cow. Whereas the latter produces about twenty litres on average, the former produces just under a quarter of that. And the average Colombian farmer has only four or five cows, whereas in Europe the average is 24. That is not fair competition, says Pedraza.

Christian Schnier (EMB)

>

Milk: from myth to mass-produced goods

In Germany the Oekom publishing house has brought out a new book about milk. In it the author, Andrea Fink-Kessler, relates the fascinating and eventful history of milk – from its mythological beginnings, when milk was exclusively the preserve of the gods, through the industrialisation of production to the renaissance of raw milk and handcrafted cheese.   

The book gives a very good overview of the history of European milk production and processing, and how over the centuries this shaped the life of people in both rural and urban areas. Anyone whose work today has something to do with milk will certainly discover a number of facts relating to milk of which s/he was not aware. There was, for instance, in the 16th and 17th century what was known as a “bread-and-butter border” between the North and the South of Germany. In the South, concentrated butter predominated in the kitchen, whereas in the North they used salted, spreadable butter. This explains the origin of many of today’s typical southern German and Austrian dishes based on concentrated butter and flour such as soups, dumplings, sweet yeast dumplings and strudel.

The last section concentrates on the globalisation and industrialisation of milk. Over-powerful supermarket chains, internationally operating dairies and the trend towards unlimited growth and efficiency dictate the evolution. There is a critical discussion of how this is connected and compatible with modern trends in the consumption of dairy produce like organic milk, slow food and probiotic yoghurts. The struggle of dairy farmers in Europe for a fair farm-gate price for their milk to secure their livelihood is viewed as more than a clear indication that the limits of this growth have been reached. The question asked is how all of this can be taken down a notch and the industrialised system of milk production can be relieved.

Unfortunately this informative, well written book is currently only available in German. It is, however, highly recommended to all non-native speakers with a knowledge of German as background reading on milk.

Christian Schnier (EMB)

>

EMB Calendar

Please find below some of the most important events in January 2013:

  • 09.01.: Meeting with the Spanish Minister for Agriculture in Madrid

  • 14.01.: Lecture at the Semex Dairy Conference in Glasgow, Scotland

  • 17/18.01: Meeting of the Executive Committee

  • 17.01.: Press conference at the Green Week in Berlin to present the study on the full costs of production

Impressum

European Milk Board asbl
Rue de la Loi 155
B-1040 Bruxelles
Phone: +32 2808 1935
Fax: +32 2808 8265
E-Mail: office@europeanmilkboard.org
Website: http://www.europeanmilkboard.org