Talks between French milk producers, dairy firms and co-operatives to resolve a long-running standoff over milk prices broke up without agreement early this morning (3 June).

A spokesperson for the milk producers federation, the FNPL, said that the talks had ended after 12 hours and that a significant gap remained between the price its members are demanding and what dairy firms are prepared to pay.

“We reckon we have lowered our demands to a greater extent than the dairy firms and are not prepared to go further than we already have.”

During the negotiations, it is understood that the farmer’s representatives lowered their payment demands from EUR305 (US$433) to EUR290 per 1,000 litres while the dairies raised their offer from around EUR265-267 to EUR270-272/1,000 litres.

However, a spokesman for dairy group Lactalis sounded a more positive note, telling just-food that an agreement was probably not far off. “A lot of posturing is going on but in reality a deal could be reached by Thursday,” he said. 

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The next stage in the process will to see French Agriculture Minister, Michel Barnier, convening the presidents of the three trade bodies representing the milk producers, dairy firms and co-ops to a meeting later today in a last-ditch effort to resolve the dispute.

On parliamentary TV channel, LCP, Barnier hinted at possible aid to bolster the cash flow of struggling milk producers.