With dairy farmers across Europe warning that the industry is in jeopardy, the European Milk Board said today (26 May) that an EU concession to protestors – to consider early subsidy payments – is “not enough” to safeguard the farmers’ future. 

“We have a situation where the price farmers are being paid for milk simply does not meet the cost of production. This is not sustainable and many, many dairy farmers are facing losing their livelihoods,” a spokesperson for the EMB told just-food.

More than 2,000 European dairy farmers gathered outside the EU Council building yesterday to put pressure on Europe’s Ministers of Agriculture who were meeting in Brussels. 

Addressing the crowd, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel restated her position that low milk prices are the result of the worldwide economic crisis.

However, the EMB maintained that the EU’s recent move to decrease quotas has also contributed to the current situation.

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“Flexible supply control that allows the volume of milk to be limited to a reasonable degree is the only chance the farmers have of being able to gain cost covering milk prices in the market,” Ernst Halbmayr, a member of the EMB’s executive committee, said.

Fischer Boel said that member states would be able to pay 70% of the direct subsidy payments from 16 October.

However, the EMB spokesperson said that this “tokenism” would do little to address the longer-term difficulties facing the sector.

“We maintain that the quota system must be used to bring down production and address the difficulty of oversupply,” the spokesperson said.