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12 Nov 2009


Agriculture & Food
Health & Consumers

EU Farm Leaders gave their views in Brussels today on the long-term future of the EU dairy
sector at a meeting of the High Level Expert Group on Milk set up by the EU Commission. They
emphasised the need for dairy producers to strengthen their bargaining power in the food chain
which could be achieved by concentrating supply via cooperatives and producer organisations.

Speaking at the meeting, Copa President Padraig Walshe insisted “There is a real need for a new
ambitious EU dairy policy when the EU milk quota regime expires in 2014/15. The dairy sector
represents over 850,000 farms across the EU, providing an important source of employment in
rural areas. Dairy farmers are not opposed to a more market-orientated policy provided that the
market functions properly and that farmers can get a fair share of its’ value. The current
imbalance in the food chain does not allow them to get this. Dairy farmers consequently need to
increase their bargaining power in the food chain and one way of doing this would be by
concentrating supply via the development of producer organisations and cooperatives. We
would like to see the single Common Market Organisation offering producers more
opportunities to come together, for the sector’s key players to organise themselves and even sign
transparent agreements between themselves”.

“Furthermore, there is increasing concern amongst dairy producers about the extreme price
volatility on the dairy market. One way to protect producers against these growing market
volatility risks may be through the further development of balanced contractual relations
properly negotiated between milk producers and dairies. Market transparency also needs to be
improved. But we must be clear that without maintaining the existing market management
tools, we cannot compensate for the effects of extreme market volatility. In this respect, the EU
Commission’s latest move to slash export refunds for dairy products is not in line with this way
of thinking. We are also very concerned about talks of putting supplies from intervention stocks
back onto the market now, as we believe it is far too early to do this and it could disrupt the
market. The dairy sector is a formidable economic driver in rural areas in the EU. For this
reason, it is essential to maintain a common and strong agricultural policy at EU level in the
future” , Henri Brichart President of Copa-Cogeca’s working party on milk and milk products

For further information, please contact:

Arnaud Petit
Tel.: +32 2 287 27 03
Amanda Cheesley
Press Officer
Mobile: + 32 474 840 836