Brussels: Dairy farmers deplore EU action over milk crisis

9th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

European dairy farmers on Tuesday condemned EU agriculture ministers over a crisis which has sent milk prices plummeting.

"The failure of the EU farm ministers to make a decision meant that the disastrous situation facing EU dairy farmers will continue," said Padraig Walshe, president of the Copa-Cogeca agriculture union.

"Many farmers will go out of business whilst waiting for EU politicians to take action," he said in a statement.

The 27 EU nations, whose farm ministers met in Brussels on Monday, are divided over whether to mitigate the effects of a phase out of milk quotas by 2014-2015. Many people have said that the milk sector must be liberalised.

"The failure to resolve the dairy crisis shows that European governments have not yet understood the challenges of this crisis," said the European Coordination Via Campesina group in a separate statement.

European farmers have stepped up protests in recent months over the drop in dairy prices, pouring milk onto streets in front of government offices and using cows to block roads.

Around a thousand Belgian farmers demonstrated in Brussels on Monday as the ministers met, holding up traffic as they handed out milk.

In November, ministers agreed to lift milk production quotas by one percent per year before scrapping them 2014-2015.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has agreed to introduce limited aid to the sector but has refused to go back on its decision to scrap the quota system.

Dairy prices have collapsed due to low demand caused by the financial and economic crisis. Since 2007, milk prices have in some countries halved.

Farmers in France, Germany and other European countries are demanding financial aid or supply limits.


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