de Brún supports milk farmers' demands
Six County MEP Bairbre de Brún has once again reiterated the need for action to help the struggling dairy sector.
Speaking as the MEP returned for the first session of the new European Parliament and as angry dairy farmers protested outside the Strasbourg building Ms de Brún said:
"In my last term I raised the need for extra support for the dairy sector directly with the European Commission and will continue to do so over the coming period. Production costs are high yet income is low and this threatens the very livelihood of many farmers and farm families. Dairy farmers need more help. We must also tackle inequalities of power in the supply chain that leads to a lower price being paid to farmers than it takes to produce.
"The Commission has informed me of some interesting possibilities that I am keen to follow up on at EU level and at home.
"Immediate action however is also required: this means milk processors paying a fair price to dairy farmers. Moreover, a restructuring and refocusing is needed within our dairy sector and I am confident of the goodwill of Europe to work with us in achieving this in a way that can help alleviate the current difficulties the dairy sector is facing."
Note to Editor:
Answer given by Mrs Fischer Boel on behalf of the Commission
The Commission has taken a number of measures to support the EU dairy sector.
First, the classical market management instruments were re-activated, starting with opening private storage for butter on 1 January 2009, two months earlier than usual. On 23 January 2009 export refunds were re-activated for all dairy products and on 1 March 2009 intervention for butter and skimmed milk powder was opened. These measures have stabilised the dairy prices at the level of the so called ‘safety net’. However, farmers receive support via decoupled payments that represent an important and stable part of the net family income.
Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005(1) on rural development could also provide further support, as the Health Check introduced the new challenges which include dairy restructuring. The Member States are expected to present their revised National Strategy Plans and Rural Development programmes by 15 July 2009. In this respect it is worth mentioning that the Health Check includes an additional amount of EUR 479.1 million for EU‑15 for 2009. It will be up to the 15 Member States to distribute these additional resources to the new challenges, including dairy restructuring.
In addition to this the economic recovery package includes an amount for broadband and new challenges of EUR 600 million for the EU‑27, already in 2009. Also in this case, it will be up to the 27 Member States to distribute these additional resources to the eligible purposes, including dairy restructuring.
The Commission follows the market very closely and will continue to act, if necessary, using the most appropriate set of market management measures.