DAIRY UK has published a booklet calling on EU negotiators to stick up for milk producers at the World Trade Organisation talks on agriculture.

The publication calls for the EU to retain “meaningful tariff protection” of its internal market for dairy goods and prolongation of export refunds.

“Without either of these two elements, the EU will not be able to manage its own internal price level,” said Dairy UK’s director-general, Jim Begg.

“That’s why the EU must help ensure that any WTO agreement on agriculture is consistent with the operation of the dairy sector under the CAP. Anything less could throw the industry into chaos.”

The EU has been locked in talks with proponents of trade liberalisation under the WTO‘s Doha Round for more than two years.

It ran into trouble in 2003 when a block of developing countries demanded better access to protected markets in exchange for liberalising the market in services.

“The government is very much in the pro-liberalisation camp and is prepared to concede on agriculture to win on services,” said Peter Dawson, Dairy UK‘s policy director.

“We have a CAP reform already which is yet to unfold and we don’t know what impact it will have on the dairy industry. We must allow it to unfold before embarking on a new round of reform.”

But the Global Dairy Alliance – which claims to represent 1.5m farmers in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand and Uruguay – has issued a statement demanding immediate liberalisation.

“We do not want to see the same old subsidies renamed so that they continue to damage world dairy markets,” said GDA chairman Osvaldo Cappellini.

John Sumner at the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers estimated that unfettered global competition would jeopardise up to 4bn litres of UK milk that goes into lower value products.