Incapable of responding to the dairy crisis, the European Commission faces international peasant farmer delegation

In News by LynneD

3 March 2016, Brussels. Published by European Coordination of Via Campesina.

logo-euroviaA delegation of member organisations of the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), from Portugal, Spain, France and Belgium, met yesterday the cabinet of Commissioner of agriculture Phil Hogan to express its impressions regarding the dramatic situation suffered by dairy producers and present its approach to end the crisis.

ECVC has made the alarming assessment that the dairy sector faces serious difficulties. Between 1984 and 2011 Europe lost 80% of its dairy producers. In 15 years, the size of the agriculture exploitation in Europe has more than doubled. ECVC is sounding the alarm: we cannot accept that the adjustment of milk production in Europe nowadays be made by eliminating thousands of dairy farmers.

To end the crisis in the short term, ECVC has asked the European Commission to increase the price of public intervention conditioned to a compulsory reduction of diary production across Europe, especially in those countries that have the most increased their production. For the long term, ECVC has presented its model to counter future crises: improve the efficiency of the European Milk Market Observatory and put into place a price tunnel in order to secure the revenue of dairy producers.

The Milk Market Observatory must become a crises alert and prevention system that calculates the costs of production in member states, fixes an equilibrium market price and brings transparency to  dairy food-processing and enhancements by industries.

Moreover, a price tunnel will enable a price guarantee on a volume per active. The idea is to base the tunnel on interior market volumes- thus 90% of the production- and to fix the minimum price of the tunnel on the average cost of production in Europe.  Complementary support mechanisms would be assured for the disadvantaged areas. A counter-cyclical insurance fund would be triggered in case of crisis, centered on a compulsory production reduction mechanism to sustain prices. Once the crisis prevention indicators activate the Observatory’s alarm system, a compulsory volume reduction mechanism is set up. This obligation will be applied differentially with regards to the volumes produced by the dairy farms. A greater contribution to the reduction effort would be expected from dairy facilities with the largest volumes- and from those that increased them the most during a referential period- compared to small and medium farms.

The European Commission was attentive to ECVC’s presentation of short term and long term tools to prevent crises. The Commission recognises the crisis but has no proposals whatsoever and has asked the 28 member states to send their propositions to take common decisions. 

The Commission is hiding behind its European budget by arguing that producers should realize how fortunate they are of being helped by the EU through the budget dedicated to the Common Agriculture Policy. However, we see that the CAP budget does not respond to the price volatility suffered brutally by dairy farms.

Coping with climate change, ECVC has insisted on the necessity of a policy of transition to turn farming facilities towards sustainable models- grass fed and more autonomous in protein. The policy put into place by the EU is destroying this human-scale model of farming. We don’t have to produce more but rather differently, to maintain dairy production in all of Europe’s regions and to satisfy European consumers.

The European Coordination Via Campesina, through its member organisations, calls on and will continue calling on every country’s policy makers on the urgent need to implement mandatory regulation in Europe to resolve the crisis.

Press contacts:

Andoni Garcia (Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Agricultores y Ganaderos – ECVC) : 0034 63 645 1569

Gwenaelle Martin (Fédération Unie de Groupements d’Éleveurs et d’Agriculteurs – ECVC): 0032 49 156 3388

 Geneviève Savigny (Coordinating Committee ECVC):0033 62 555 1687     

Stéphanie Delhaye (Mouvement d’Action Paysanne – ECVC)  0032 47 436 4242   

Jose Miguel Pacheco Goncalves (Coordinating Committee ECVC): 0035 19 6872 1995

Victor Pereira (Confédération Paysanne –ECVC): 0033 14 362 1033

Henri Lecloux (Mouvement d’Action Paysanne – ECVC):  032 47 436 4242

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