Tepid prices for milk are not grounds for EU action to prop them up. Europe’s farm chief has rejected demands by at least five countries. They want to consider delaying annual increases in EU milk production quotas. They say this could give dairy prices a chance to recover. The quota rise was negotiated last November under the “health check” — or mini-reform — of EU farm policy.
Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia are saying “unconventional approaches” are needed to help milk prices. France’s Michel Barnier said: “I believe there has not been a Council meeting since I have been Minister of Agriculture at which I have not alerted my colleagues about the volatility and fragility of the milk market, and the necessity to preserve the tools which govern production. That is why, together with Germany, in the ‘health check’ I have fought to create two gatherings – in 2010 and 2012 – to take stock of the piloting of milk production, and we would like the Commission to make the first of these happen very early in 2010.” Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel says she would be happy to discuss support management, but re-open the ‘health check’, no. She said that suspending quota increases would not solve the current problem. Producers in Germany, with prices practically scraping bottom at 20 eurocents per litre, have once again been threatening to choke off supply.