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Dear dairy farmers and interested parties,

We should have learned our lesson by now, but we keep producing ever more milk, anticipating Russia and China to re-enter the market, whilst farm-gate milk prices drop and producers see themselves forced to give up their livelihoods.

Listening to the dairy companies’ explanations for the low farm-gate price could create the impression that China has brought all milk imports to a complete stop. That is, however, not true. China has not left the market as we are told; the Chinese still import milk but only to the extent we used to know from the time before their imports skyrocketed in 2013-14. At first we were told that the purchasers had left the market altogether, but were expected to come back in a couple of months. That was postponed to the last quarter 2014, then to the first quarter 2015; now the last quarter 2015 or early 2016 is mentioned as the time of their return. “We may have underestimated the volumes purchased” sounds one of the explanations.

To me it is all too clear that none of the people making these statements knows anything. But a great many people would like to comment at the producers’ expense, because we are the ones kept in the dark with the vain hope that we are ready for when the market picks up again.

I see no reason why China should return to the market with the force of 2013-14, and even if the Russian market opens up, the shelf space has meanwhile been taken by others. A return to the Russian market will be like entering a totally new market. In Denmark we hope Arla Foods will find it easier because of to their previous commitment, but we can only hope. In mere desperation we attempt to find new emerging markets like Nigeria, Ivory Coast and other African nations. Fat lot of good that will do!

When the milk price goes up on the world market it is interpreted as “The market is screaming for more milk”. Conversely one must now conclude that the world market is screaming for less production. Why are all the great European dairy companies screaming for so much more milk, and why are the dairy farmers producing so much more milk when it is obvious that it cannot be sold at a cost- covering price?

We produce more milk because the free market is not functioning in the big co-ops. The dairy companies sell the most expensive litre of milk with a large profit and the cheapest litre at a loss. The last litre was therefore better not produced. We, the dairy farmers, are paid the average price that the dairies can pay for the milk, thus earning or losing the same amount for each litre produced. In other words, no economic market signals come through to us, hence we cannot respond in a rational manner. We produce milk at full throttle, as long as possible and at any price.

That is how it will work with a divided market: one between farmer and dairy and one between the dairy and the market. This clearly shows the need for an EU mechanism that can reduce milk supply when farm-gate prices are low. That is exactly the mechanism the EMB advocates, but which the dairy companies work against. They want growth, they want to process the goods and get their margin for it, so that they can grow even more.

Kjartan Poulsen, Member of the EMB Board and president of LDM Denmark

Second European Fair Milk Conference


On 23 June 2015, the Italian dairy farmers’ organisation APL della Pianura Padana and the European Milk Board held the second European Fair Milk Conference in Montichiari, northern Italy. The focus was on sustainable, fair milk production.


Ireland: concerns on milk price and superlevy fines

© wikimedia commons

Irish dairy farmers’ concerns in June 2015 are the milk price and superlevy fines. The milk price paid to dairy farmers for May 2015 from dairy processors was 28-30 cents per litre, down from 39 cents per litre in the middle of 2014.



Germany: Market situation gets worse for dairy farmers

© wikimedia commons

The German milk market situation is worsening day by day. The volume supplied has now surpassed the previous year’s figure. It was in calendar week 20 that the previous year’s milk volume was exceeded for the first time, when 0.4% more milk was supplied.



Protests in Lithuania after milkprice of 10 cents per litre

© Kooperacijos kelias

The situation for Lithuanian milk producers is really dramatic at the moment. After offered only 10 cents per litre, producers have poured out 30 tons of milk on 1st of July. Lithuania is dominated by 5 milk processors, purchasing milk not only from local but also from neighbouring milk producers.


Switzerland: Consumers benefit from dairy farmers’ plight

© wikimedia commons

According to the latest media reports, there are more and more shopping tourists aiming to benefit from the differences in prices between Switzerland and abroad. The differences in selling prices are actually striking. As regards dairy products there are three reasons for this:




TTIP & CETA – Standards were already lowered long ago

© European Union, 2015

An article from Zeit online describes the influence of the trade agreements with Canada (CETA) and the USA (TTIP) on the environment, consumer protection and food security. The original intention of the free trade agreements was to abolish traditional barriers to trade, such as quotas and import duties.





News from Brussels

© wikimedia commons

EMB Diary

The EMB Board’s key dates in July 2015:

  • 07.07.:        Meeting with the French Ministry of Agriculture
  • 13.-14.07.:  TTIP & CETA strategy meeting
  • 22.07.:        Talks with EU-Commission (EMB cost studies)


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