The group that represents dairy farmers in the EU has said that reforms to agriculture policy are “urgently needed” to make sure that agriculture will be sustainable in the future.
This week, the European Milk Board (EMB), an umbrella group of which the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) is a part, said that Europe’s farming system does not have a “healthy production structure.”
Instead, the board thinks that EU farming is getting worse, which has led to a huge drop in the number of farms in Europe, from 15 million in 2003 to less than 10 million now. This is a trend that the EMB said will continue.
This trend will mostly affect small and medium-sized farms, which will have to close because of lower profit margins and income.
Kjartan Poulsen, the chairman of the EMB and a Danish dairy farmer, said, “Even though the milk price is higher than usual and costs are covered for the first time in some regions, this does not make up for the huge losses farmers have had over the past ten years.”
Poulsen added, “On top of that, costs are going up at an exponential rate, and the possibility of prices going down soon means that their incomes will be put under a lot of pressure again.”
Some of the measures and changes that the EMB wants are:
A ban on selling goods for less than they cost to make;
Farmers should be involved in coming up with ideas for implementing the European Green Deal;
Tools for dealing with crises in the EU’s agriculture system;
Strong producer organisations that can bring together a lot of producers to get a better deal;
Taking agriculture out of free-trade deals with the EU.
The EMB says that a ban on selling below cost would stabilise farmers’ incomes and the structure of production in the EU.
The EMB also thinks that the EU Green Deal’s goals are told to farmers and that farmers are expected to pay for these strategies’ extra costs.
Elmar Hannen, the German vice-chairman of the EMB, said, “The EU can come up with goals that are good for the current agricultural policy.
“But when these goals are changed because the wrong course was set or because the right course wasn’t set, neither farmers nor consumers will benefit.”