More than 500 milk producers from Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Germany blockaded this week’s agriculture council meeting in Luxembourg, to protest at EU plans to phase out milk quotas.

EU agriculture ministers were debating the CAP “health check”, which is due to be signed off next month. Part of this involves increasing milk quotas by 1% a year to 2014, after which they should be scrapped. The EU Commission also wants to restrict access to intervention for butter and skimmed milk powder by introducing a new tendering system.

But the European Milk Board, which organised the protest, said the proposals went too far, calling for the retention of quotas beyond 2015, and a system that allows quotas to move up or down depending on market demand.

milk demo 28/10/08

“At this moment we go straight forward to a collapse of the market because of organised over-production,” said EMB president Romuald Schaber. “We need an immediate stop to volume increases.”

It is understood that most farm ministers are committed to a phase out of quotas by 2015, but there is talk about allowing member states some flexibility as to when they increase their quota levels.