A fresh row on milk prices could be set to break out in France with the dairy processors federation, the FNIL, claiming prices are among the highest on the market.

The FNIL has called for a cut in prices and a realignment with other European countries. The call comes as French producers still do not know how much they will be paid for supplies delivered in April.

French producers were paid an average of EUR320 (US$425.33) per 1,000 litres of milk supplied in the first quarter of the year. The going rate in other major producing countries does not exceed EUR250 per 1,000 litres.

“France can not remain disconnected from reality much longer,” the FNIL said, referring to the collapse in world prices for butter and powdered milk, which has already been passed on in a number of European countries.

The FNIL underlined France’s “loss in competitiveness”, with milk imports rising 17% in January and February on last year. Exports fell by 11%.

The FNIL’s position contrasts with France’s milk producers federation, the FNPL, which has called for an average annual price of  EUR305 per 1,000 litres in 2009 compared to EUR336 in 2008.