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Since March, 2015, thousands of peasant families focused on milk production have lost their livelihoods after losing the quota system through which the industry was forced to acquire this food from historical producers. A limited number of corporations have established huge installations, competing at world level with much lower prices.
This situation has prompted protests by milk producers across Europe before the European Commission, which has only started a study among institutions, delaying a discussion about the model and what other organizations consider is urgent: going back to production in the hands of peasant families of the countryside.
This is what the member of Via Campesina Europe Isabel Villalba, from Spain, said in an interview with Real World Radio.
The European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) believes the current crisis of the milk sector and the desperate situation of milk producers "demands measures that are well beyond the European Commission’s conventional procedures of postponing decisions due to further studies, evaluations and the convening of experts". Via Campesina states: "To assess the functioning of the "Milk Package" one only has to look out the window and behold the ruin of thousands of producers across the European Union and the disappearance of milk production in several regions, facts that have been pointed out by many sectorial organizations, including ECVC, after the High Level Group presented its recommendations."
Isabel said that currently farmers receive 0.30 Euros on average by liter of milk, while its production costs are much higher: 0.40 Euros.
By being replaced by industrial mega farms that reduce their costs, the European production of milk has embarked on an international competition, thus motivating a widespread drop in the price of this food product. The sanctions established by the European Union and the US on Russia, the main purchaser of European dairy products, have derived in an overabundance of them, thus contributing to the price crisis, which has been taking place for over a year now.
The member of Via Campesina Europe says that in less than a year, over 600 farms have closed in Spain. She also said that a mega farm can replace 300 families, which also don´t have any alternatives to stay in the countryside, since they occupy mountain regions or have a historical peasant tradition on the sector.
A recent report by organization Grain states that “Nothing is more important to food and farming in the EU than dairy. It makes up about a fifth of the EU’s total agricultural production, and about a fifth of the global milk supply is consumed in the EU. But European dairy farming is in profound crisis.”
And they add that the number of dairy farms in the EU has declined by 80% since 1984, and the last few years have been particularly tough. Euskal Herria, for instance, lost 60% of its dairy farms between 2002 and 2010 as a consequence of EU policies that depress the prices they are paid for milk below the cost of production.
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