The NFU has called on European policy makersto help make the sector more market focused and to provide dairy farmers withthe right tools to supply a growing demand for dairy products worldwide.
NFU dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond madehis comments in Brussels recently at a high level dairy conference attended byover 400 stakeholders representing EU institutions, industry, research andnational governments.
Dairy farmer Mr Raymond, also chairman ofthe EU farmers organisation Copa-Cogeca dairy working group, focused onseveral key areas where European policy makers could make a positive impact onthe future of the sector.
Given the CAP budget reductions, farmersneed to obtain a realistic return from the market which covers their costs ofproduction so that they can continue to develop their businesses. Quotas aregoing this is right in a globalised market but the EU has a number of othertools in its box.
Priority should be given to the fullimplementation of the milk package. Contractual relations play a vital role ingiving more predictability to milk producers as far as the volume, price andduration are concerned.
For too long producers have had no choicebut to sell milk below the cost of production – this is unacceptable. We needthe EU to use whatever tools it can to help the market work properly so as todeliver a fair and sustainable price to milk producers. We need retailers toact more responsibly towards the milk producers, and to secure long term supplyof milk for consumers across the EU. The increased role of producerorganisations and the EUs support in this area will also be essential.
Market management tools such as publicintervention and private storage – are also of primary importance to help dairyproducers cope with the effects of extreme market volatility.
Important free trade talks are on-goingbetween the EU and the US, Canada and other markets which could have importantramifications on our industry. The EU must defend our sector interests so thatwe can take advantage of new markets with our high quality products.
Mr Raymond said action was vital after more than a quarter of a million European dairyfarmers had left the industry since 2007.
Low and volatile milk prices, environmentalregulation and little potential to grow are the main reasons why milk producersare getting out of the industry, said Mr Raymond.
On the other hand the European dairyindustry represents 13 per cent of the turnover of the total food and drinkindustry in Europe this shows the importance of the industry and why we mustsupport it.