EU milk producers see voluntary production cuts positively
Contrary to other measures, the EU reduction programme fulfilled two fundamental conditions for a functioning instrument: effective influence on prices and acceptance among milk producers.
"The voluntary volume reduction, which ran from October to December 2016, had a direct effect on milk price," says Romuald Schaber, President of the European Milk Board.
The average EU farm-gate price prior to the launch of the programme was around 25 cents/litre; it is now over 33 cents.
"For us, this is clear confirmation that voluntary production cuts - something the EMB has demanded for many years - can reinstate market balance. It must play an important role in the sector's future as a permanent instrument and in conjunction with a cap on volume."
Numerous EU policymakers have also acknowledged this need. The appeal to anchor such a programme in the Common Market Organisation is gaining strength in the European Parliament as well.
The high level of participation in the EU volume reduction programme was also unanimously deemed positive by European milk producers. Even in the main producer countries like Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands, many producers have reduced their production. "Dairy farmers are very willing to stem the flow of milk to an extent, even if individual governments find this hard to believe," explains Sieta van Keimpema, EMP Vice President.
However, the atmosphere among Europe's milk producers remains tense. The Member's Assembly is of the opinion that prices might have risen, but the recovery can only be short-lived so long as a comprehensive crisis mechanism is not put in place.
"The expected increase in production in the coming months hangs like the sword of Damocles over our farms," says Schaber.
This is why the milk powder in storage from intervention may under no circumstances be placed on the market now and neither may it be sold for a price below production costs at a later stage. ■