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13 de diciembre de 2012 | |

The Weakest Link

Cattle Farmers in Europe say NO to Privatization of Milk Policies

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La Via Campesina Europe, together with other organizations linked with milk production in Europe such as the European Milk Board, EMB and the Fairness for Farmers in Europe, FFE, have exposed a new attempt to privatize the dairy policies in that continent, affecting peasants all over the world.

At the European Conference on Milk Policies organized on November 29 by the Confederation Paysanne and the European Coordination of La Via Campesina in Fougeres, France, the organization said the policy aims to favor transnational exporting companies above European farmers and consumers.

“Farmers do not want to produce to earn less” say the organizations. “We cannot base a dairy economy on selling at prices below cost and losing money”.

Privatization of milk policies is attempted through contracts where big corporations increase their profits at the expense of a greater exploitation of milk farmers both inside and outside the European Union (EU).

“The regulation of farming is necessary to preserve a sustainable dairy production shared between the different European countries” say the organizations that also claim the contracts do not consider the production costs and when there is surplus of the product for climate reasons or others, the prices that farmers get for their milk are ridiculous.

When defining the European milk policy there is a tendency to favor transnational corporations, which leads to serious damage not only to European farmers but also to farmers of other countries that get these subsidized exports, Isabel Vilalba, Spanish peasant and leader of La Via Campesina, told Real World Radio in Brussels.

“We think that the countries have the right to develop their own food policies especially with regards to basic products. Besides, there is also the increasing energy costs in many countries that base their food policy on exports or imports”, said Isabel.

Milk production in Europe would be liberalized in 2015 in order to increase production and therefore exports of food produced outside Europe.

La Via Campesina believes this would bring about long periods of increase in food prices and others of really low production costs that would ruin family farmers and peasants.

This would be really damaging both for consumers and for farmers, but not for the industry, said Isabel. “But we don’t want to produce more to earn less”.

If this policy goes through, more and more European peasants will leave their farms, under pressure of the corporations. “In 2009, says Vilalba, there was a milk crisis where working groups made what we called ‘milk package’, that produces an imbalance in the value chain so the producers get terrible and abusive terms”.

She also said intensive milk production is done through imports to the EU of large amounts of cattle feed from Southern countries, so this also leads to a reprimarization of the economies of the peripheries.

“The aim should be to feed people. Milk and other basic products cannot be subject to speculation, which leads to the ruin of farmers. It should also guarantee access to consumers”, said Isabel.

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