MEP Jim Nicholson says that the EU must do more to support European milk producers in response to the crash in international dairy markets.
“Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has the power to strengthen the market support measures that can be made available to milk producers,” he said.
“In the first instance he can have the producer costings associated with both intervention and aids to private storage reviewed. This will automatically increase their relevance as support measures.
“And the money is available to make this a reality. Hogan can draw down some of the €300 million that is currently available in the EU Emergency Fund.”
Nicholson pointed out that the EU was partially responsible for causing the current slump in world dairy markets, courtesy of its current row with Russia.
“Moscow has just extended its EU food import ban, as its response to the continuing economic sanctions imposed by Brussels,” he said.
“EU heads of state have always made it quite clear that Europe’s farmers will not pay the cost of geo-political decisions taken in Brussels. It’s time this commitment was realised.”
The last two days have seen the European Parliament debate Nicholson’s report on the future support measures required by the dairy sector in the EU.
“March 31st this year marked the end of an era for the dairy industry,” he said.
“The end of milk quotas after 31 years will understandably be cause for some nervousness and trepidation for dairy farmers who have always had production governed by quotas. But I believe we must seize this opportunity to build a more confident and robust dairy sector for the future.
“The measures I have put forward in my dairy report, from strengthening contractual relations to improving the operation of the Milk Market Observatory, do not reinvent the wheel.
“They do however aim to help the sector manage the greatest challenge facing the industry – namely, price volatility.
“We should not be in a situation where we wait with baited breadth on the outcome of commodity auctions in the US and New Zealand. The EU needs to become a global leader and not a global follower.
“We can make a start by using the tools that we have, but using them better.”