Agriculture Council Recognises Dairy Recommendations

Agriculture Ministers met in Brussels last Monday 12 July for the first Agriculture and Fisheries Council under the new Belgian Presidency. The new Council President, Belgium’s Federal Agriculture Minister Sabine Laruelle and her colleague Kris Peeters, Minister of the Flanders region, introduced the Presidency’s six month work plan. Staged against a backdrop of European milk producer protests, recommendations from the Commission’s High Level Group on Dairy sparked the only major discussion point in what was otherwise a relatively short meeting.

Agreement on HLG for Dairy recommendations

At the meeting, Agriculture Ministers broadly agreed to act on key recommendations tabled in the final report from the High Level Group on Dairy, set up to respond to the 2009 dairy sector crisis. In particular, three elements were highlighted for legislative proposals: an EU framework for milk contracts, competition amendments to agricultural law to facilitate greater collective bargaining power, and a review of the role of interprofessional organisations. However, some issues remained contentious as a majority of Member States, including the UK, Netherlands and Sweden were keen to stipulate the need for contracts between milk producers and dairies covering deliveries of raw milk to be ‘flexible’ in nature as well as voluntary, to allow for the different ways that the sector functions in different Member States. In contrast, France and Greece were among a number of Member States calling for strong Commission guidelines. Views on market measures also differed with some delegations arguing for the creation of new instruments to reduce the exposure of the dairy sector to market volatility.

It was made clear at the meeting that, while the dairy market situation has improved, the sector still remains fragile. Commenting on the issues, Mr Ciolo? highlighted the role dairy reforms will play in ‘increasing confidence’ in the sector ahead of the final phase out of milk quotas in 2015. Going forward, the discussion on dairy issues is scheduled to be resumed at the 27 September Council meeting, with the Commission presenting proposals for a ‘milk package’ at the December Council. The package of measures is to be focused on contractual relations and improving the bargaining power of producers with origin labelling being discussed separately.


21 Jul 2010




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