EU to give 280 million euro in aid to dairy farmers

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

European Union
Image: Wikimedia Commons, various contributors.

European Union (EU) Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel pledged 280 (US$418) million in aid to dairy farmers Monday, after weeks of protests. She said she would "empty her pockets", but that was as much as she could offer; "I don't have a special account in Switzerland or anywhere else," she commented at an EU farm conference in Luxembourg where farmers were holding their third protest in as many weeks.

A recent demonstration in Belgium saw farmers dump three million litres (660,000 gallons) of milk on fields — and requests from 21 EU member states for emergency aid. The funds will come out of the 2010 budget. This is in addition to the announcement in September that the EU would modify rules to allow temporary state aid payments; each farmer could receive a maximum of €15,000.

Last November, EU agriculture ministers planned to abolish milk quotas completely by 2015. The quotas are aimed at supporting prices, as the demand for dairy products has plummeted throughout the economic crisis; in some cases, prices have halved since 2007.

These measures seek to alleviate temporary problems, but the commission still intends to end the quota system for milk, and reduce market intervention which helps support prices.