Hundreds of millions for dairy farmers

German farmers will receive 100 million euros to counteract plunging milk prices, the German government announced on Monday at a dairy summit in Berlin. Cutting milk production would be more effective, some commentators argue. Others say the money should be used to reform the farming sector.

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Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Milk market urgently needs reform

Instead of approving millions in aid the politicians should start looking at how to cut production, Deutschlandfunk advises:

“Because producing milk is not the same as producing cars on assembly lines. Assembly lines can be stopped and the workers sent home with short-time pay. Cows are left standing in the stalls and not milking them would be torture. You can't just switch off high-output milk production; you have to reduce it slowly. And milk production has shaped and maintained our - fragmented - cultural landscape over centuries. … The current price disaster should prompt not just Germany but all Europe to reflect carefully on the future of the milk market. The citizens of the EU must think about precisely what they want to subsidise with their tax money. The answer certainly can't be the crisis on the global milk market.”

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

Use the money for a true change of course

The Berliner Zeitung demands that the millions of euros in state funding should be invested in agricultural reform:

“The real causes of the current crisis aren't being addressed: European agricultural policy has always spent umpteen billion euros a year on subsidies for high-tech mass production to coddle the agricultural sectors in the member states. And in the dairy industry but also in the meat production sector it relies on exports to all over the world. … A fundamental change of course aimed at creating more sustainable economies is needed: if we are going to spend billions, then at least it should be for an agricultural sector that produces food as free of chemicals as possible and that takes account of climate and ground water protection as well as the diversity and well-being of animals. 'Keep it up' can't be the message once again this time, the Federal Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt said on Monday. He should take his own words to heart.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Don't export EU milk to Africa

EU farmers must not export their subsidised surplus products to poorer regions of the world, Der Standard argues:

“There are reports that since the end of the quotas more powdered milk is turning up in Sub-Saharan Africa. Local farmers complain that they can never compete with the prices of the cheap powdered milk from Europe. For those who represent the EU's interests it must be clear that there should be functioning farming communities elsewhere too, and that other countries have an interest in keeping their own supply systems intact. We can't send our own surplus products to poorer regions without causing extreme damage there. The EU has 500 million consumers, most of whom drink milk. Producing for these consumers must be the top priority. This is why EU production is subsidised - albeit reluctantly. But export trade ventures should not be part of this.”