Improving the dairy chain
Creating more balanced contractual links between milk producers and dairies, increasing farmers' bargaining power and developing tools to reduce market volatility were some of the key issues discussed by the Agriculture Council on 12 July as it looked for further ways to stabilise the milk market and producers' revenue.
Ministers took note of the recent final report of the High Level Group on Milk, set up in the wake of last year's dairy crisis. In order for the dairy sector to be better able to adapt supply to demand, the paper recommends promoting the use of formal and detailed contracts, made in advance, to cover raw milk deliveries (incl. price, volume, timing and duration), either using guidelines or a legislative proposal.
The report also suggests strengthening farmers' bargaining position by allowing producer organisations made up of dairy farmers to negotiate contract terms, such as price, with a dairy.
The High Level Group proposed that the on-going work on labelling should consider raising the profile of milk products by the use of "place of farming" labels and seek distinct labelling for imitation dairy products, such as "analogue cheese".
The Council also looked at the further development of the European food price monitoring tool, which should help to anticipate possible market disturbances, and at the importance of innovation and research for the competitiveness of the dairy sector.
The discussions are due to continue at the Agriculture Council in September, allowing the Commission to come forward with proposals before the end of the year.
Council press release
Council webcast of press conference