Environment Secretary calls for EU action to help British dairy farmers

Urgent EU action is needed to help British dairy farmers, the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has stressed to Phil Hogan, EU Agriculture Commissioner, ahead of next week’s extraordinary meeting of Agriculture ministers in Brussels.

Global volatility and a surplus of milk on the world market are leading to low prices for dairy farmers both in Britain and across Europe. Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss highlighted to Commissioner Hogan four areas in which she will press the EU to take urgent action when ministers meet at Agriculture Council on Monday 7 September:

Development of a futures market, similar to those that already exist for grain and sugar beet. This would help the industry through periods of unpredictable price shifts and give farmers more certainty over future prices. She will ask the EU Commission to convene a specialist task force to develop proposals.
Measures to help deal with the immediate difficult situation faced by farmers struggling with low prices and cashflow.
Increased transparency in the dairy supply chain across Europe to help ensure farmers are being treated openly and fairly and to provide consumers with greater certainty about where the milk in dairy products comes from.
Action to open new markets and reduce tariffs into existing export markets.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
“I recognise the seriousness of the current situation for the dairy industry caused by global volatility and surplus of milk across the world.

“We are entering a post-quota world and I stressed to Commissioner Hogan the importance of the EU introducing the right measures to help dairy farmers through this turbulent time and ensure the industry is sustainable.

“I want to see the Commission accelerate measures to help with the immediate problem. An EU-wide futures market for dairy would also provide greater certainty over prices in the same way we have for cereals, and the Commission should take a lead in delivering this.

“There is also a need for structural changes to the industry if it is to thrive. As part of this we need to see greater transparency across the dairy supply chain so both consumers and suppliers know exactly where milk comes from.

“I will also continue to use dialogue with the Commissioner to push for better country-of-origin labelling for dairy products so consumers know when they are buying British, and more effort to open new markets for exports.”

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