Wednesday

18th Jul 2018

Milk sector prospects 'encouraging', as EU quotas end

  • Farmers are already increasing their number of cows in anticipation of the end of the milk quota system (Photo: maraker)

Although the decision to abolish the quota for dairy farmers was made 12 years ago, it comes at a time when prospects for the sector are “encouraging”, EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said at a press conference Thursday (26 March).

The milk quota system, which put a cap on European farmers' dairy output since 1984, will be abolished on Wednesday (1 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

“The removal of these production constraints can be looked upon with optimism”, the Irish commissioner told journalists.

“The market prospects are encouraging, with at least 150 million people entering the middle class each year between now and 2030, bringing almost 60 percent of the world's population in a middle income bracket, where demand for dairy products is growing dramatically.”

The economic growth in countries like China has increased demand for milk products, Hogan said.

“We have new market opportunities, particularly in the Far East, which Europe was not able to take advantage of - which other countries like New Zealand were - in the last 30 years.”

The milk quota were introduced to counter negative side-effects of the European agriculture policy, which supported farmers with subsidies by guaranteeing a minimum price for their products.

This led to surpluses dubbed “butter mountains” and “milk lakes”.

But with growing demand for milk products, the EU decided to abolish the quota, back in 2003.

In 2009, it decided to aim for a so-called 'soft landing'. Instead of abolishing the quota from one day to the next, the national quotas have increased by 1 percent each year.

Hogan noted this policy turned out to be successful.

“We have an increase already of 5.5 percent in production right across the European Union in 2014. We've coped fairly well with that in terms of markets and price. The price is the same now as it was two years ago.”

However, fears still remain among farmers that the end of the restriction will lead to price volatility. Environmental organisations also fear an increase in the number of cows will lead to an increase in environmental pressures.

Many farmers are already planning for the new regime.

In the Netherlands, one of Europe's largest dairy producers, the number of calfs that will be milk cows last year increased by 7 percent, according to the Dutch bureau of statistics.

EU says milk price still 'reasonable'

EU farm chief said there are “limitations” to what commission can do to help farmers hit by low milk prices and the Russia food ban.

EU farm chief questions own milk scheme

The EU just ended milk quotas. On Monday it reinstated them on a voluntary basis after prices crashed. But the EU commission itself doubts the new scheme will work.

Why are European farmers unhappy?

EU farm ministers will hold a special meeting to discuss the pressures facing farmers across the bloc. But many factors are beyond their control.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

Visual Data

Europe's water quality falls short

Due to pollution, the majority of European rivers, lakes and estuaries fall below the minimum environmental standards, a report by the European Environment Agency reveals.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us