High Level Group makes 7 recommendations for EU dairy sector
The High Level Group on Milk, set up last October in the wake of last year's dairy crisis, has finalised the report on its deliberations, including recommendations to the Commission on seven issues. These include an invitation to come forward with concrete moves to enhance the use of written contracts in the dairy supply chain and to consider proposals to increase the collective bargaining power of dairy producers.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş stated today: "I welcome the work of the HLG and this report. I will now study it in detail with a view to coming forward with legislative proposals before the end of the year. My main aim is that we consider medium to long term measures which address the lessons learned from last year's crisis aimed at better structuring the sector as a whole."
The recommendations to the Commission from the High Level Group relate to:
*Contractual relations between milk producers and milk processors: Enhancement of formal written contracts, made in advance, to cover deliveries of raw milk (inc. price, volume, timing & duration) – through guidelines or a legislative proposal, maybe made compulsory by the Member State.
*Collective bargaining power of producers: Possible proposal for provision to allow producer organisations constituted by dairy farmers to negotiate jointly their contract terms, including price, with a dairy. Whether permanent or temporary (but sufficiently long), the provision should be subject to review.
*The possible role of interbranch organisations in the dairy sector: Examination of whether any of the current provisions for interprofessional organisations in the fruit & vegetables sector could also be applicable in the dairy sector.
*Transparency in the dairy supply chain: Further elaboration of the European Food Price Monitoring Tool, and a look at the provision of more information (e.g. on volumes of dairy products) by EUROSTAT & national statistics offices.
*Market measures and futures: Consideration of "green box compatible" instruments to reduce income volatility, including possibly facilitating the use of futures markets, in particular via targeted training programmes.
*Marketing standards and origin labelling: Ongoing Commission work on labelling should consider the feasibility of different options for "place of farming" labelling for dairy products and should seek distinct labelling for imitation dairy products.
*Innovation and research: Improvement in communicating existing possibilities for innovation and research within the existing framework of Rural Development and research framework programmes. Stakeholders should define clear research priorities for the dairy sector in order to allow better coordination of national & Community research programmes.
The full 50-page report (with annexes) will be posted shortly at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/milk/index_en.htm
Following the difficult market situation for milk last year, the Commissioner established a High Level Expert Group on Milk (HLG) last October with the purpose of discussing mid-term and long-term arrangements for the dairy sector given the expiry of dairy quotas on 1 April 2015 (see IP/09/1420). While respecting the outcome of the Health Check, the HLG was asked to consider regulatory issues which might contribute to stabilizing the market and producers' income and enhance transparency on the market. 10 meetings were held from October 2009 until June 2010. A draft report summarising the outcome of the discussions and with certain recommendations was tabled in May, and this was adopted unanimously today.
Comprising representatives from Member States and chaired by the Director-General for Agriculture & Rural Development Jean-Luc Demarty, the HLG heard oral and written contributions from major European stakeholder groups in the dairy supply chain on the issues. Furthermore, the HLG received valuable contributions from invited academic experts, 3rd country representatives, DG Competition, National Competition Authorities and DG AGRI regarding some specific issues. Finally a major dairy stakeholder Conference was held on 26 March 2010 allowing a larger number of actors in the chain to express their positions.