EU dairy agreement strengthens farmers

The sometimes strained relationship between farmers and the companies they supply to should be clearer and farmers’ positions strengthened after MEPs and national governments reached a deal on the dairy package this morning.

East Midlands MEP Emma McClarkin welcomed the agreement which responds to the concerns of dairy farmers across the EU who feel that processors and supermarkets use their enormous power to undermine their position.

Under the agreement reached today, more power will be given to producer organisations. They can grow up to 33 percent of production in a member state or 3.5 percent of total EU production. Collectively, farmers will therefore be able to negotiate a better deal.

Emma at an East Midlands Dairy Farm

Emma at an East Midlands Dairy Farm

The regular lack of a written contract will be addressed as national governments will be able to impose compulsory contracts or require that a written offer be made to the farmer, which he has the choice of accepting or not.

Concerns over the lack of timely information regarding volumes of raw milk delivered to processors will also be resolved by requiring compulsory declarations of milk delivered.

The regulation will also strengthen the role of so-called ‘interbranch organisations’ – producer organisations which represent the economic activities associated with production, commerce or processing.

The deal is expected to be formally adopted by the parliament in February.

Miss McClarkin said:

“Dairy farmers get a rough deal in the supply chain and these plans will give them more clout when dealing with milk processors.

“Dairy farmers often feel they are fighting a David versus Goliath battle with many of the companies they supply to. These plans will re-tip the balance to ensure that farmers get a fair price for the milk that they produce, as determined by the market rather than by processors.

“These proposals give national governments flexibility to introduce tougher measures within their own countries, in particular to ensure that the relationships within the supply chain are managed in a transparent manner in writing, so that farmers have the ability to control who they sell to and at what price.”

“This is a step in the right direction, which will encourage more cooperation and better relationships between producers and processors. However, retailers are not involved and their relationships with farmers still need to be addressed.”

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