The European Parliament Agriculture and Rural Development Commission this week voted, with strong majority, to achieve a better balance in the market relationship between milk producers and processors

The aim of this Report is to obtain better prices for European producers by allowing producer organisations to negotiate collectively contracts with processors. Those contracts would have to be drawn up in advance and contain some key elements such as price, volume and duration.

Speaking from Brussels, Liam Aylward, MEP and Member of the Committee said,

“Broadly speaking I welcome the measures put forward in this Report in relation to strengthening the position of the farmer in contractual negotiations and compulsory declarations.  These will significantly improve transparency throughout the dairy supply chain and will be of benefit to all the actors engaged in the dairy sector”

“I am pleased that my text proposing the creation of a Market Monitoring Agency to collect and disseminate data and information on production, supply, exports and imports, production costs, margins, and prices across the dairy product supply chain was supported and I will continue to push for the Commission and Council to take action on this..  Transparency and timely, accurate information are crucial to avoiding a repeat of the market volatility of 2009”

Speaking further on market instability the MEP stated,

“While there is stability in the market at present, the severe difficulties that Irish dairy farmers faced in 2009 are not far from our memory.  It is essential that we devise a system that will work for the dairy farmers post quota regime in 2015. What is of great concern is that while the EU is under quota overall, Irish dairy farmers are running a high risk of super-levy. In light of this situation I met with Dairy Experts in the European Commission earlier this month and strongly urged them to allow the EU quota be redistributed to Ireland”.

In relation to the implementation of mandatory contracts at the Member State level and supply management measures in the Report, the Ireland East MEP also voiced some concerns,

“There are a number of specific measures proposed which I have concerns about.  If implemented incorrectly there is a chance of market distortion and imbalance in the internal market and it is essential that the Commission continues to engage with the sector in the implementation of the final measures agreed”.

This Report on contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector marks an important development for European agriculture as it is the first legislative report to go through the Parliament under the increased powers given to the Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty.