EMB Newsletter September 2018
Dear dairy farmers, dear interested parties,
The whole of Europe suffered consequences of this summer's drought. The dry weather affected pastures, hay and silage as well as cereal and straw production. As a result of the drought, milk producers are missing key, self-produced feed. In this issue you will find reports of some of our member associations on the situation in their countries.
Danish agriculture has also been hit very hard as the entire country experienced hot “Mallorca” climate throughout the summer. According to official calculations, Danish agriculture loses a total of 800 million to 1 billon euros. Calculations of the Danish dairy farmers’ organisation LDM show that the dairy farmers hardest hit will have a deficit of 550 to 650 euros or even up to 700 euros per cow in this current feeding season.
Many dairy farmers have lost two cuts of grass. The grain yield was 60-80 per cent less than normal. Corn looks poorly and the yield is expected to be massively reduced, as it is for grain. The situation is particularly critical for organic dairy farmers, who cannot buy organic feed, and it is only possible to buy organic supplementary feed to a limited extent.
The Danish government is open to providing some sort of drought aid, but internal disagreements or indecision have meant that no scheme was adopted by the end of August. It is estimated that in the worst-case scenario, the drought can increase the number of bankruptcies by up to 400 or 500 out of a total number of some 10,000 commercial farmers. Dairy and pig producers are particularly vulnerable, as they have both grown too little feed, and have to buy replacement feed. Crop farmers are experiencing lower yields as well, while also seeing rising settlement prices.
The EU Commission has provided a number of options for European farmers and even allocated funding via the second pillar, but the Danish government is reluctant. They are not even supporting the idea of speeding up the payment of part of the agricultural aid. The Danish environmental and animal welfare organizations are very active and supported by a significant part of the population. The current (center-right) government is afraid of introducing any type of “farmer-friendly” regulations, fearing that this might have a negative impact on the next elections, which will take place before summer 2019.
All facts considered, this is a rather difficult situation for Danish dairy production. The farmers will need additional liquidity in order to be able to feed their cows until the first cut of grass next year. Organic producers in particular have begun reducing the herd by slaughtering animals, and we will doubtlessly see more of this throughout the autumn.
Kjartan Poulsen, EMB Executive Committee member and President of LDM Denmark