Farmer milking cow© Mathieu Pattier/Sipa/Rex

European farmers have called on the EU to urgently improve its emergency milk market measures.

Copa-Cogeca, the group representing the EU’s farmers, told the European Commission in a meeting that action was essential as milk prices were now below farmers’ costs of production.

The group has asked the EU to:

  • Ensure sure the €800m (£573m) of superlevy fines stay in the sector
  • Make EU public intervention and private storage schemes more efficient
  • Seriously consider raising the milk intervention price.

Mansel Raymond, chairman of the Copa-Cogeca milk working party, said the situation was critical.

See also: Global dairy prices suffer latest setback 

“Today, we have low prices all across the EU, with farmers producing below production costs, leading to severe cashflow problems and some of the members in the working party warned they could go out of business unless action is taken,” he said.

Copa-Cogeca is also exploring how to address extreme market volatility.

“Today, we have low prices all across the EU, with farmers producing below production costs, leading to severe cashflow problems and some of the members in the working party warned they could go out of business unless action is taken.”
Mansel Raymond, Copa-Cogeca 

The milk working party has rejected calls for a market responsibility programme, which would reward farmers for cutting back production in times of oversupply.

But it is considering voluntary options, such as a US-style margin protection scheme, futures markets, fixed-price contracts and A and B price structures.

Latest figures from the European milk market observatory show the average EU raw milk price was 31.6c/kg (22.65p/kg) in March – 0.8% lower than in February.

Total EU milk production was 1% lower in January and February than the same two months of 2014, which was a strong production year.