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MILK-NEWS

http://www.europeanmilkboard.org

EMB Newsletter February 2012

  • The same goes for the financial markets and the dairy market: there must be clear rules! – A proposed solution for European milk supply
  • “Not just a flash in the pan!” – More than 20,000 demonstrate again in Berlin for a new agricultural policy
  • “Good and fair in Europe” – joint Fair Milk Stand at the International Green Week in Berlin
  • New Minister receptive to the Belgian dairy farmers’ concerns
  • Milk prices in 2011
  • When differences turn into strengths - Interview with an EMB staffer who was there from the very beginning

Newsletter as PDF

download here a pdf version

Contact

European Milk Board
Bahnhofstr. 31
D-59065 Hamm

Phone: 0049/2381/4360495
Fax: 0049/2381/4361153

E-Mail:   office@europeanmilkboard.org
Website: http://www.europeanmilkboard.org

Newsletter as PDF

download here a pdf version

Contact

EMB - European Milk Board asbl
Rue du Commerce 124
B-1000 Brussels

Phone: +32 - 2808 - 1935
Fax:     +32 - 2808 - 8265

office@europeanmilkboard.org
www.europeanmilkboard.org

Dear Dairy Farmers and Interested Parties,

In January my colleagues from the EMB Board and I spent a few days at the International Green Week in Berlin. This huge agricultural trade show is truly a consumer fair. Thousands of visitors meet the exhibitors, dealers and retailers as well as farmers there and can find out how their food is produced and sample the products – at the EMB’s Fair Milk Stand, for instance.

Many decision-makers from the world of politics and industry also attend the Green Week supporting programme – grabbing photo opportunities in front of the big tractors and taking part in press conferences and round-table discussions.

At the numerous events I visited, one thing became very clear to me: whilst the supposedly intact world of agriculture is presented by and large on the trade fair stands, the players in the agricultural market are very aware of the existing problems. Such as the speakers at the opening ceremony of the fair. Without exception they spoke of the negative consequences of selling agricultural products below production costs, the uneven margin distribution and the consumers’ responsibility when shopping. What a shame that, once the fine speeches are over, people care only about the income of top managers in retail and industry, instead of taking the European consumers’ concerns seriously.

To date far too few of the changes that are needed in the farming sector have been put in place and the wait is far too long! This point was driven home by EU Commissioner Dacian Ciolos in the Citizens’ Dialogue organised by the “My Agriculture” initiative at Green Week. Although he promised to insist on his demands for family farms and more sustainable agriculture in the agricultural reform, at the same time he warned us not to expect too much of the EU agricultural reform. The EU members states were, he said, like an elephant that needs to change direction: “How can you make an elephant get a move on?” Pushing and pulling it would be no good. “If you dangle something tasty under his trunk, he‘ll start moving.”

This elephant is ambling along too slowly for the European farmers’ and consumers’ liking. That was made clear by the 23,000(!) demonstrators who marched through the German capital during Green Week in the “We’ve had enough” demonstration.

With so many committed supporters there is increasing hope that the elephant will perhaps “step on it” in future!


Kind regards,


Sieta van Keimpema
(Vice-President of the EMB)

The same goes for the financial markets and the dairy market: there must be clear rules! – A proposed solution for European milk supply

EMB press conference at International Green Week Berlin

Hamm/Berlin, January 19th 2012: The international finance and debt problems make it clear: free market forces create dangerous turbulence, plunging the sector deep into crisis. The same goes for the dairy market. It is now in a state of frenzy, and the planned deregulation measures – such as the abolition of quotas in 2015 – will push it even further towards ruin. The trend is towards rock-bottom prices that fluctuate dramatically and the milk producers’ greater dependency on dairy groups and banks. Clear rules are needed that guarantee the operation of a healthy market.

read more...

“Not just a flash in the pan!” – More than 20,000 demonstrate again in Berlin for a new agricultural policy

“We’ve had enough! Farms – Yes; industrial agriculture – No!” That was the cry of 23,000 men and women who marched through the streets of Berlin to the Chancellor’s office on 21 January in spite of ice-cold temperatures and sleet. They wanted to send out a message during the International Green Week. The demonstrators included many consumers, people from environmental protection and animal welfare groups, beekeepers and farmers. Their aim: a reform of the agricultural policy. A stop has to be put to food and animal feed scandals, cruelty to animals in the “agricultural factories” and GM food on our plates. More than 20,000 people had already taken to the streets of Berlin to raise this issue back in January 2011.

read more...

“Good and fair in Europe” – joint Fair Milk Stand at the International Green Week in Berlin

The European Milk Board was represented at the International Green Week in Berlin from 20 to 29 January 2012 with a joint stand shared by the Fair Milk countries Austria, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. At the world’s biggest food industry and agricultural products consumer fair, the EMB presented the different varieties of milk in the European Fair Milk range and informed consumers of the necessity for a cost-covering farm-gate price.

read more...

 

New Minister receptive to the Belgian dairy farmers’ concerns

Source: Wikimedia Commons

At a consultation with the milk producers in Belgium’s Walloon Regional Parliament on 24 January the new Minister of Agriculture Carlo di Antonio showed interest in the milk producers’ problems.During the consultation it quickly became clear that the politicians were by and large totally unaware of the Belgian dairy farmers’ plight. One of the reasons why, according to Erwin Schöpges, President of the MIG and a member of the EMB Board, is the lack of communication between producers and politicians: “Generally speaking, milk producers are not invited to consultations on agriculture and so far there has hardly been any debate on the issue in Belgium”, says Schöpges.

read more...

Milk prices in 2011

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In its Milk Price Comparison the EMB regularly shows the farm-gate prices paid by various dairies in Europe. You can see these statistics in detail at http://www.europeanmilkboard.org/en/emb/milk-price-review.html. Here is a brief synopsis of what the dairies paid in 2011.

read more...

When differences turn into strengths - Interview with an EMB staffer who was there from the very beginning

Sonja Korspeter worked many years as director and policy officer for the EMB. Early in 2012 she will leave the EMB to face new challenges.
A good reason for us, to ask her some questions about her time here with us.


Silvia Däberitz: Sonja, you will be leaving your post here in a few days. How did you start working for EMB?
Sonja Korspeter: It was in November 2004 in Hamburg. At the airport Business Center – I was accompanying a French milk producer – there were dairy farmers from seven European countries who had been invited by BDM Nord, and they agreed on the first joint press release. It contained three statements: “First: Together we demand a farm-gate price of at least € 0.40 a kilo of milk. Second: The dairy farmers in Europe can no longer be played off against one another. Third: We are preparing a European milk strike!”

read more...

Full Texts

The same goes for the financial markets and the dairy market: there must be clear rules! – A proposed solution for European milk supply

EMB press conference at International Green Week Berlin

Hamm/Berlin, January 19th 2012: The international finance and debt problems make it clear: free market forces create dangerous turbulence, plunging the sector deep into crisis. The same goes for the dairy market. It is now in a state of frenzy, and the planned deregulation measures – such as the abolition of quotas in 2015 – will push it even further towards ruin. The trend is towards rock-bottom prices that fluctuate dramatically and the milk producers’ greater dependency on dairy groups and banks. Clear rules are needed that guarantee the operation of a healthy market.

The financial sector cannot operate without efficient financial supervision, transparency and the outlawing of dangerous speculation. In the dairy sector, too, severe structural deficits necessitate wide-reaching measures. In the current situation farmers have no bargaining power and so are unable to adjust their supply to consumer demand in a systematic way.

Lessons and solutions for the dairy market
To strengthen their bargaining position vis-à-vis the processors, members of co-operatives and producers that supply private dairies must be given the opportunity to join a producer organisation that negotiates on their behalf. Such a producer organisation must be able to become as strong in the market as a dairy.

Moreover, a monitoring agency has to be set up to enable supply to be adjusted to demand across the markets. Its remit is to gather key data such as production costs, prices, and the volume of supply and demand. On that basis it calculates volume adjustments, i.e. works out how much has to be produced so that a) supply is geared to demand and b) a cost-covering farm-gate price is achieved for the producers and c) a fair milk price is achieved for the consumers.

Dangerous speculation
Speculation has caused the financial sector to fluctuate with disastrous effects. It is not clear whether the market can recover. It is irresponsible for foodstuffs like milk to be the subject of speculation. According to the World Bank, the so-called silent tsunami – as world food experts call dangerous price rises in staple foods due in part to speculation on food in futures markets – plunged 44 million people into poverty between June 2010 and April 2011.

The financial sector and the dairy sector must be restored to functionality. People’s trust in the markets has been shattered. In future it must be proven that the markets can operate in the interest of our society. And that is only possible with clear rules!

EMB Press release of January 19th 2012

“Not just a flash in the pan!” – More than 20,000 demonstrate again in Berlin for a new agricultural policy

“We’ve had enough! Farms – Yes; industrial agriculture – No!” That was the cry of 23,000 men and women who marched through the streets of Berlin to the Chancellor’s office on 21 January in spite of ice-cold temperatures and sleet. They wanted to send out a message during the International Green Week. The demonstrators included many consumers, people from environmental protection and animal welfare groups, beekeepers and farmers. Their aim: a reform of the agricultural policy. A stop has to be put to food and animal feed scandals, cruelty to animals in the “agricultural factories” and GM food on our plates. More than 20,000 people had already taken to the streets of Berlin to raise this issue back in January 2011.

Both last year and this year the demonstration was organised by the “My Agriculture – our Choice” campaign. This is a broad alliance of organisations from agriculture, environmental protection, animal welfare and consumer protection and development aid groups. The campaign is committed to a fair, family-based and ecologically sound agricultural policy. This calls for the linking of agriculture subsidies to animal welfare standards and to ecological and social criteria. And subsidies for agricultural exports have to be abolished.

Jochen Fritz from the “My Agriculture” campaign was very pleased with how the demonstration went: “Last year the demo attracted a lot of support because of the dioxin scandal. The fact that this year, too, so many people turned up, shows that this truly is a new movement.” Ulrich Jasper from AbL agreed: “The large number of demonstrators shows that the great success last year was not just a flash in the pan, that people really do wonder how food is produced, and that they want to have their say.”

“From vegans to traditional pig breeders, from environmental protection activists to farmers – it is rare for an event to have such a broad spectrum of support”, was how Fritz confirmed society’s considerable interest in a new agricultural policy.

Kerstin Lanje from the Catholic development aid organisation MISEREOR likewise felt the event was a success. “It was just a pity that the route this year was shortened because of the Designer Show, which was held on the same day in Fashion Week."

Hans Foldenauer of the German Dairy Farmers’ Union (BDM) stressed: “Even if the demonstrators’ opinions naturally differ on some points, they all agree that the agricultural sector needs clear rules. That is also important to the BDM. Co-operation and discussions between the various groupings make it possible to form a clear opinion and stand up for common goals.”

The mood throughout the demonstration was very good: even at the end when the crowd carried on dancing to the sounds of the Dota & die Stadtpiraten band.

Astrid Sauvage (EMB)

“Good and fair in Europe” – joint Fair Milk Stand at the International Green Week in Berlin

The European Milk Board was represented at the International Green Week in Berlin from 20 to 29 January 2012 with a joint stand shared by the Fair Milk countries Austria, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. At the world’s biggest food industry and agricultural products consumer fair, the EMB presented the different varieties of milk in the European Fair Milk range and informed consumers of the necessity for a cost-covering farm-gate price.

The exhibition stand was a real eye-catcher for visitors. They were particularly interested in our milkable Faironika. Curious and very eager, many tried milking a cow for the first time. Otto Schöneweis aroused mirth and grins with his Fair Milk Clocks and when he recited his poems and rhymes. A sample for your delectation: "Soweit die Füße tragen / an guten wie an schlechten Tagen / für die Bauern und die Ehre, / und für die Milch die faire."  (As far as my feet will carry me / On days both good and bad / For the farmers and the honour / And for fair milk, let it be had).

We explained the dairy farmers’ tough situation to numerous trade fair visitors on a one-to-one level and told them about the Fair Milk project. The visitors’ reactions varied a great deal, but were altogether extremely positive. Many showed great interest in the farmers’ situation and already knew about the low farm-gate prices – since the milk strike of 2009 in particular. But some were utterly clueless when they came to our stand and had never heard that farmers earned so little from a litre of milk. Many consumers would be prepared to pay a higher price for milk in order to help the farmers and showed great enthusiasm for the Fair Milk initiatives. The taste of the milk samples won the visitors over. The cocoa milk was particularly popular among children.

It was a pity that when asked “Where can you buy Fair Milk?” we often had to console people with the answer that it was not yet on sale in Berlin and Brandenburg. However, the consumers’ support encourages us to work at further extending Fair Milk.

Together with the BDM federal state team helpers we look back on a successful International Green Week in Berlin and are grateful to the many committed helpers, some of whom spent all day patiently and competently answering visitors’ questions.
With all our effort it was evident to us that the consumers are on our side – Fair Milk is on the right track!

Tobias Elsner (BDM North office) and

Julia Turchenko (EMB)

New Minister receptive to the Belgian dairy farmers’ concerns

Source: Wikimedia Commons

At a consultation with the milk producers in Belgium’s Walloon Regional Parliament on 24 January the new Minister of Agriculture Carlo di Antonio showed interest in the milk producers’ problems.

The meeting was arranged at the initiative of the EMB member association MIG, the Dairy Farmers’ Association. It was attended by the new Minister of Agriculture and representatives of each party. The aim of the consultation was to present the critical situation of dairy farmers in Europe to the politicians, taking France and Switzerland as examples. The reports were given by Frenchman Paul de Montvalon, President of Office du Lait, and Nicolas Bezencon from the Swiss EMB member organisation Uniterre. The situation in Switzerland is particularly problematical, since milk prices have plummeted as a result of the abolition of the quota system.

During the consultation it quickly became clear that the politicians were by and large totally unaware of the Belgian dairy farmers’ plight. One of the reasons why, according to Erwin Schöpges, President of the MIG and a member of the EMB Board, is the lack of communication between producers and politicians: “Generally speaking, milk producers are not invited to consultations on agriculture and so far there has hardly been any debate on the issue in Belgium”, says Schöpges. “The MPs and the Minister, who has not been in office for long, seemed surprised when we entered the room with a delegation of 20 dairy farmers. But everyone there showed great interest and stayed right to the end.”

An important point discussed was the problem of the co-operative dairies. The thorny issue is that the members no longer have any real influence on “their” co-operative. This means that the members’ interests are not given due consideration. Here the politicians backed down to some extent. They said that, although they were aware that some were no proper co-operatives any more, as yet there was no solution to the problem in prospect.

Schöpges was basically satisfied with the consultation: “Altogether they seemed interested in and receptive to our concerns, and the Minister already said he was open to further talks. For us the meeting was another high point in terms of political acceptance.”

Astrid Sauvage (EMB)

Milk prices in 2011

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In its Milk Price Comparison the EMB regularly shows the farm-gate prices paid by various dairies in Europe. You can see these statistics in detail at http://www.europeanmilkboard.org/en/emb/milk-price-review.html. Here is a brief synopsis of what the dairies paid in 2011.   

The prices the EMB gathered from Austria were invariably those paid by the Milchgenossenschaft Niederösterreich (MGN) [Lower Austrian Milk Co-operative], which were in the lower third of the farm-gate prices across Europe in 2011. Whereas the price of milk up until March was 27.99 cents a kilo, it rose in April to 28.99 cents and again in October to 30.49 cents. Unfortunately we have no data yet for November and December.
In Germany after a slump in March (31.50 cents) the price paid by Friesland Campina for milk went up in the following months, peaking at 37.16 cents a kilo in October, only to fall again in December to 35.49 cents. The prices paid by Nordmilch and Humana were likewise up on those at the beginning of the year. The last data we have are for July/August. The price paid by both dairies for milk was around the 34.00 cents mark.
The Danish dairy Arla started in 2011 at 30.35 cents and the price rose in the first half of the year to 32.56 cents. That was about average for Europe.
The farm-gate price paid by the Italian dairy Mila in 2011 was consistently 24.82 cents a kilo, making it the lowest price paid by a dairy in the milk price comparison.
The Luxembourg dairy EKABE paid 31.02 cents at the start of the year, then the price dropped initially to 30.52 cents and stayed at 32.02 cents until November.
In the Netherlands the prices made available were invariably from CONO, DOC, Friesland Campina and Leerdammer. Leerdammer paid the lowest prices (the maximum was 35.84 cents in June/July and October/November), followed by CONO (36.01 cents May to October) and DOC (37.16 cents in October/November). The prices paid by all three dairies rose in the course of the year. The price paid by Friesland Campina for instance peaked at 37.64 cents in June. But the prices fell again as early as August (35.80 cents), to rise again in October/November to 36.84 cents.
The dairies in Great Britain started 2011 paying below 30.00 and, after a dip in February, prices went up by more than 1 cent over the course of the year. The farm-gate prices paid by the four dairies were consistently parallel, with First Milk paying the lowest, followed by Dairy Crest and Arla. All the dairies paid their top price in November: First Milk 32.31 cents, Dairy Crest 32.32 cents, Milk Link 33.47 cents und Arla 33.81 cents.

Maggi Selle (EMB)

When differences turn into strengths - Interview with an EMB staffer who was there from the very beginning

Sonja Korspeter worked many years as director and policy officer for the EMB. Early in 2012 she will leave the EMB to face new challenges.
A good reason for us, to ask her some questions about her time here with us.


Silvia Däberitz: Sonja, you will be leaving your post here in a few days. How did you start working for EMB?

Sonja Korspeter: It was in November 2004 in Hamburg. At the airport Business Center – I was accompanying a French milk producer – there were dairy farmers from seven European countries who had been invited by BDM Nord, and they agreed on the first joint press release. It contained three statements: “First: Together we demand a farm-gate price of at least € 0.40 a kilo of milk. Second: The dairy farmers in Europe can no longer be played off against one another. Third: We are preparing a European milk strike!” Just three months later there was another meeting, this time in Billund, Denmark. That was when I became an activist for the growing movement of dairy farmers, initially alongside my work for the AbL [German Small Farmers’ Association].

But my interest had already been aroused a year before, sat in the kitchens of Breton dairy farmers, listening to them talk about the situation on their farms, past and present, they sharing with me their visions and their political commitment.


What were the best moments, and somewhat difficult moments for you in the EMB?

What springs to mind first are the great moments. The Milk Producers’ Congress 2008 in Brussels. We had so little time to prepare, and Brussels was so far away from almost every farm. But then 4,500 dairy farmers turned up! And the same year saw the first big strike, that took a lot out of the strikers. That’s why it was also a great moment in Berlin, standing outside the Brandenburg Gate and knowing what we had achieved together over 10 days in several European countries. Nobody would have thought it possible, and the joint effort drew the attention of consumers, farmers, politicians and the industry to the milk producers and the situation on their farms. That effect is still being felt.

But the best moments are actually quite low-key. That is when milk producers from many different countries sit around a table and see their differences not as an impediment but as positive, and a constructive, lively discussion begins. Such moments keep recurring. In my view they are a major factor in the strength of EMB.


What is your next move, professionally?

At the moment I’m on a further training course to become an adviser on the transfer of farm ownership, and then I’d like to assist with processes of change on farms. And perhaps I can apply my experience from EMB work to organisational development and assistance with EU projects. Promoting communication between the public, farmers and political representatives from different countries continues to be important to me. But for a while this aspect will not be such a focus for me, or maybe it will be more in terms of writing texts.


Will you carry on being committed to the EMB?

I’m sure I’ll keep in touch with many EMB folk. Milk, agricultural policy, farming and rural areas will always be key issues for me. We have given some thought in the office team to how I could support the EMB’s work in the future. I would be delighted if it worked out and we could stay in contact.


Do you have a few parting words for the milk producers?

Yes, what a good friend of mine often says: "Go for it! And take care." Trust in your strength and remember that structures are sluggish and it takes time and a lot of stamina to change them.

As farmers, you provide society with food, you shape the landscape and culture. That is the basis for a good life and needs to be valued more, by farmers too. Increasingly the rest of society will re-learn that. Your dialogue with society is important, including dialogue with committed groups engaged in consumer and environmental protection, and development aid organisations. For a different EU agricultural policy and for regional added value.

I am sincerely grateful for your trust and it was great working together with you. It was really quite special to only have to make just the one call in some cases knowing that the direct action on the spot would be a success because you would put your backs into it.


Do you want to say a few words to the Executive Committee and the Office perhaps?

Hats off to you for your commitment. As members of the EMB Board you put your time, energy, expertise, blood, sweat and tears into your work, that is impressive and infectious. Value your own individual strengths, see what has been reached and stick to the lively debate. And what about a basket of specialities from the EMB representatives’ respective production to give a good kick-off for the Office team’s move to the European capital?

Sincere thanks to my colleagues for their attentive, committed collaboration and all the best for the new, exciting times in Brussels!


Sonja, we thank you very much for this interview and wish you all the best for your future!


Interview: Silvia Däberitz

Impressum

European Milk Board asbl
Rue du Commerce 124
B-1000 Bruxelles
Phone: +32 2808 1935
Fax: +32 2808 8265
E-Mail: office@europeanmilkboard.org
Website: http://www.europeanmilkboard.org