Hundreds of European dairy farmers with a lot to lose have vowed to take a harder position with their milk supply strike if the EU’s farm ministers don’t deliver solutions for the crisis in their sector.
Riot police guarded a special meeting in Brussels — called at France’s request — from the angry demonstrators. The president of the European Milk Board Romuald Schaber said: “We propose lowering production voluntarily, with financial encouragement, so as to be more flexible in responding to variations in the market.” The Milk Board represents more than 140,000 farmers. The ministers were discussing French proposals. French Agriculture Minister Bruno Lemaire said: “We’ve changed the direction the ship is going in; we are going towards regulation. It’ll all take time, obviously, to take concrete shape but we are on the right track.” The French proposal for new dairy regulations has won the support of a majority of the EU’s 27 member countries, but EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said many of their suggestions had already been implemented or discussed. She stuck to the principle of full liberalisation of milk production. Fischer Boel said: “We agreed in 2003 that quotas should go by 2015 and this was reconfirmed in the discussions on the “health check”, and this position is still standing, so the quotas will go by the end of March 2015.” She added that a proposed high-level group of experts would begin meeting next week. They will look for solutions including contracts between producers and dairies and a possible dairy futures market.