Procedure : 2014/2146(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0187/2015

Texts tabled :

A8-0187/2015

Debates :

PV 06/07/2015 - 14
CRE 06/07/2015 - 14

Votes :

PV 07/07/2015 - 5.12
CRE 07/07/2015 - 5.12

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2015)0249

REPORT     
PDF 285kWORD 150k
15 June 2015
PE 541.637v02-00 A8-0187/2015

on prospects for the EU dairy sector – review of the implementation of the Dairy Package

(2014/2146(INI))

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

Rapporteur: James Nicholson

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Budgetary Control
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on prospects for the EU dairy sector – review of the implementation of the Dairy Package

(2014/2146(INI))

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to Regulation (EU) No 261/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector(1),

–       having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007(2),

–       having regard to the Commission report of 13 June 2014 entitled ‘Development of the dairy market situation and the operation of the ‘Milk Package’ provisions’ (COM(2014)0354),

–       having regard to the Commission report of December 2014 on the ‘Prospects for the EU agricultural markets and income 2014-2024’,

–       having regard to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on the subject of the outermost regions of the EU,

–       having regard to the Commission report of 10 December 2012 entitled ‘Evolution of the market situation and the consequent conditions for smoothly phasing-out the milk quota system – second ‘soft landing’ report’ (COM(2012)0741),

–       having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2013 on maintaining milk production in mountainous areas, disadvantaged areas and outermost regions after the expiry of the milk quota(3),

–       having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on the EU protein deficit: what solution for a long-standing problem?(4),

–       having regard to its resolution of 17 September 2009 on the crisis in the dairy farming sector(5),

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 15 July 2014 on tackling unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food supply chain (COM(2014)0472),

–       having regard to Regulation (EU) No 247/2006, which establishes specific measures in the field of agriculture in favour of the outermost regions of the European Union(6),

–       having regard to Regulation No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs(7),

–       having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of 13 January 2015 on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (COM(2015)0010),

–       having regard to the Draft Opinion of the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘The future of the dairy industry’,

–       having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding in respect of cooperation in agriculture and rural development within the EU between the European Commission and the European Investment Bank signed on 23 March 2015,

–       having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–       having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0187/2015),

A.     whereas the ‘Milk Package’ came into force on 3 October 2012 and applies until 30 June 2020;

B.     whereas, as decided in the 2003 Mid-Term Review of the CAP, dairy quotas will expire on 31 March 2015;

C.     given the importance and topicality of the measures contained in the resolution of 11 December 2013 on maintaining milk production in mountainous areas, disadvantaged areas and the outermost regions of the Union after the expiry of the milk quota;

D.     whereas the global dairy market is increasingly volatile, with the highest-ever price since records began noted in January 2014, followed by substantial drops in prices throughout the rest of 2014; whereas livestock farming and the input products used in dairy production are particularly vulnerable to the challenges of volatility, resulting in farm-gate prices that are below the costs of production;

E.     whereas sustainable farming as a source of high-quality food can only be ensured if farmers receive adequate farm-gate prices which cover all the costs of sustainable production;

F.     whereas the Russian ban on European dairy products since August 2014 has had a negative impact on the EU internal market, thus demonstrating the need to be prepared for the application of crisis-related market measures, irrespective of their nature, as well as the importance of securing diverse export markets for EU products, particularly as global demand for dairy products is predicted to increase, combined with ensuring a stable, solvent domestic market;

G.     whereas the Milk Package brought in the possibility for Member States to introduce compulsory contracts to help producers and processors plan their production volumes, as well as to bolster the structuring of supply chains in view of the end of milk quotas, and whereas few Member States have made use of that prerogative so far;

H.     whereas the Milk Package obliged Member States to recognise producer organisations and their associations and the crucial role that cooperatives continue to play, bearing in mind the need to improve the concentration of supply so as to provide producers with greater negotiating power;

I.      whereas the Milk Market Observatory was established in April 2014 to improve monitoring of the dairy sector for both the Commission and the industry, and whereas its function needs to be strengthened so as to create within the sector an efficient crisis-warning system for dairy farms of various sizes, geographical locations and with differing production and distribution methods;

J.      whereas the current safety net is too low to provide protection in the event of a fall in the price of milk;

K.     whereas one of the main objectives of the common agricultural policy (CAP) is balanced territorial development, in economic, social and environmental terms; whereas this presupposes that agriculture will continue to be productive and sustainable in disadvantaged, outermost, remote or mountainous areas;

L.     whereas the end of quotas will have a considerable negative impact on the outermost regions, particularly in the Azores, where dairy farming is the main economic activity, representing around 46 % of the regional economy;

M.    whereas for a large number of dairy farms located in disadvantaged, outermost, insular, remote and mountainous areas the costs of production, collection and marketing of milk and dairy products outside their production area are much higher than in other areas, and whereas they cannot utilise the opportunities for growth created by the abolition of the quota to the same extent because of the natural constraints of these regions; for these reasons, such farmers could be threatened by a larger concentration of producers in the best-placed economic areas within the EU;

N.     whereas compulsory declarations of delivered volumes of milk will apply from 1 April 2015;

O.     whereas generational renewal, modernisation and investment are crucial for a functioning and sustainable European dairy sector;

P.     whereas milk and, in particular, ‘protected designation of origin’ (PDO), ‘protected geographical indication’ (PGI) and ‘traditional specialties guaranteed’ (TSG) products produced throughout the EU significantly contribute to the success of the EU’s agri-food industry and the prosperity of rural economies where small and medium-sized family farms predominate and where extensive milk production must be maintained, provides the raw material for large numbers of processors in the private and cooperative sectors, preserves a diverse European agri-food heritage, and plays a key role in Europe’s territorial and environmental configuration, as well as in the social sphere, with a multiplier effect on other business sectors such as tourism;

Q.     whereas significant fines have been imposed on farmers and milk producers in some Member States for exceeding milk quotas during the last two quota years;

1.      Recalls that a viable, sustainable and competitive dairy sector across the EU, with responsive tools allowing for fair remuneration of dairy farmers, is the goal of the Milk Package; stresses that the issues identified in the Milk Package remain a barrier to a sustainable, competitive and equitable milk market and a fair income for farmers;

2.      Recalls the important role of dairy farming in terms of land management, rural employment and the economic, environmental and social development of numerous European agricultural regions;

3.      Highlights the fact that dairy farmers, and in particular small-scale farmers, are particularly vulnerable to income variations and risks owing to high capital costs, the perishability of production, volatile dairy commodity prices and input and energy costs, and that a sustainable livelihood from dairy farming is an ongoing challenge, as production costs are frequently close to or above farm-gate prices;

4.      Stresses that European farmers have to cope with high costs owing to the prices of items involved in production, such as livestock feed, and that, as a result of stringent European regulations on animal welfare and food safety, their competitiveness is reduced in comparison with other countries;

Impact of the Russian embargo and the current crisis in the dairy sector

5.      Urges the Commission to reflect on the causes of the crisis and on measures to put in place to prevent future crises, as indicated in Articles 219, 221 and 222 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products;

6.      Urges the Commission to address, with further targeted market measures, the crisis currently affecting domestic dairy markets as a result of downward price pressure resulting from a lack of adequate crisis instruments, a dip in global demand, global price volatility and the Russian embargo, whilst recognising the first steps that have been taken thus far in addressing the impact of the Russian embargo;

7.      Points out that the surplus of dairy products from certain Member States that have traditional commercial relations with Russia creates major imbalances on their domestic markets, leading to a sharp decrease in prices and causing local producers to become uncompetitive; calls upon the Commission in this regard to analyse the newly created situation and take priority action;

8.      Recalls that the dairy crisis of 2009 occurred under the quota structure and because of the malfunctioning of the dairy products value chain, resulting in downward pressure on the price paid to producers; reminds the Commission that the delay in responding to the crisis forced many dairy farmers out of business, and expresses concern regarding the Commission’s capacity to respond rapidly and effectively to market crises; highlights the fact that the drop in prices at source that has affected livestock breeders was not reflected in consumer prices, which demonstrates the major imbalance between the different stakeholders in the dairy supply chain;

9.      Regrets that Parliament’s request, which aimed, in the event of severe crises, to provide subsidies for farmers who voluntarily reduced their production, has been rejected by the Council; underlines the importance of reopening the debate on this crisis management tool;

10.    Underlines that the abolition of quotas risks leading to an additional concentration of milk production to the advantage of the largest dairy farmers and to the detriment of the smallest farmers, without guaranteeing efficiency or income;

Challenges and opportunities for the dairy sector

11.    Notes that the medium- and long-term prospects for the dairy sector in both domestic and global markets remain fluid with fluctuating demand, but at the same time emphasises that, as a key part of the agri-food industry, the dairy sector has significant long-term growth and job creation and development potential in rural areas, which should also be targeted under the new Investment Plan;

12.    Stresses the importance of encouraging research and innovation in order to allow all producers and processors to adapt their apparatus and production techniques in response to economic, environmental and social expectations;

13.    Highlights the important role that generational renewal has for the future of the milk sector and the significant opportunities for young farmers in dairying;

14.    Calls on the Commission to establish new financing opportunities for Member States, including with the aid of the European Investment Bank (EIB), by means of which the dairy industry will be reformed; considers financial support, such as guarantee funds, revolving funds and investment capital, to be essential, along with resources provided by the EIB, in order to intervene at the level of structural and European investment funds, in particular in harmony with rural development; this would enable a multiplier effect to be achieved in terms of growth and income, as well as facilitating access to credit for dairy farmers; welcomes in this regard the financing opportunities presented to farmers in the dairy sector by the EIB’s new fund, which offers lower interest rates to facilitate on-farm investment and modernisation, while offering financing opportunities to young farmers to grow their businesses; further highlights the complementary nature of the European Fund for Strategic Investments financing, which would help to develop the milk sector by attracting private capital with a view to expense accountability and increased investment effectiveness;

15.    Notes that the high degree of price volatility and recurring crises that are incompatible with major investments in livestock and the establishment of new producers are the main challenges facing the dairy sector; urges the Commission in consequence to consider measures to mitigate the risks arising from increased exposure to the world market, to monitor more closely the correct functioning of the single market in milk and milk products and to set up an action plan in order to show how it intends to mitigate these risks;

Maintaining a sustainable dairy sector in in disadvantaged, mountainous, insular and outermost regions

16.    Commits to maintaining milk production, as dairy farming makes an important socio-economic contribution to agricultural and rural development across the EU, and emphasises its particular importance in disadvantaged mountainous, insular and outermost regions, where it is sometimes the only type of farming possible; adds that for these regions this sector is responsible for social, economic and territorial cohesion, the subsistence of many families, the organisation, occupation and protection of the territory and the maintenance of cultural and traditional practices and also, as dairy farming has shaped centuries-old cultural landscapes in these regions, creating an important basis for tourism; highlights the fact that in these regions the abandonment of milk production equates to the abandonment of agriculture;

17.    Stresses that it is essential to create a transition mechanism in the outermost regions between the elimination of quotas and the liberalisation of the markets which makes it possible to protect farmers and the sector in these regions;

18.    Requests that the safety-net measures be activated as specific indicators for dairy operations and businesses in mountainous regions, given the difference in production between mountainous dairy regions and other territories;19.  Expresses disappointment with the low levels of implementation of Milk Package measures in outermost regions and mountainous, insular and disadvantaged areas, and underlines that it is indispensable to maintain dairy farms as viable and competitive businesses in all of the territories of the Union; considers, in this respect, that these areas must be the focus of special attention and specific studies by the Commission and Member States and that the use of short supply chains, giving preference to local production in these specific cases, must be encouraged in order to ensure continued production in these regions and to avoid abandonment of the sector; urges the Commission and the Member States furthermore to improve and strengthen the milk distribution regimes in schools, favouring short supply chains and thereby enabling the distribution of production in these regions; highlights the fact that in these areas production costs are typically close to or above farm-gate prices and considers that the current uncertainties of the supply chain are particularly detrimental to these areas, which have the strongest barriers and reduced opportunities for economies of scale; recalls that farmers in these areas depend directly and exclusively on a small number of input suppliers and buyers for their agricultural production because of their geographic isolation; stresses that support for the setting-up and activities of producer organisations should better reflect the realities of these regions; stresses that it is necessary to carry out ambitious policies to support these regions with the aid of policies for rural development, the Investment Plan and the promotion and fine-tuning of CAP aid, as permitted by the latest reform; calls on the Commission, therefore, to encourage the Member States to implement such measures, in order to enable the preservation of milk production in these regions; urges the Commission to closely monitor the evolution of dairy production in these areas and to assess the economic impact of the end of quotas on dairy farms; believes that it is necessary to allocate additional resources to the POSEI programme so as to assist milk producers in adapting to the effects resulting from the deregulation of the markets and enabling them to maintain viable and competitive dairy production relative to the rest of the European area;

20.    Emphasises the importance of using the voluntary quality term ‘mountain products’ in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012; calls on the Commission to support this designation by promoting sales;

21.    Emphasises the importance of the indigenous breeds of mountain cattle for dairy production in mountainous areas; calls on the Commission to take measures to strengthen the promotion of these mountain cattle breeds;

Price volatility and the end of milk quotas

22.    Recommends that, in order to prevent further market instability, previous decisions on milk quotas be maintained;

23.    Takes the view that EU dairy policy after the expiry of milk quotas must include means for making the most of the expansion opportunities for the EU economy in order to make milk production attractive to farmers, and considers that any future measures must strengthen its competitiveness and stability in order to facilitate sustainable growth and innovation in the agricultural sector and the quality of life in rural areas;

24.    Asks the Commission to define an adequate legal framework to allow production to be organised through supply management in the dairy sector;

25.    Acknowledges the decision to spread payment over three years as regards the final sums charged to farmers under the quota regime, but notes that significant funds have been removed from the dairy sector in the last quota year as a result of the implementation of the superlevy, and therefore recommends that this revenue remain within the CAP budget to strengthen the competitiveness of the dairy sector;

26.    Calls on the Commission to present one or more regulatory tools to prevent and effectively manage new crises in the dairy sector, notably by facilitating the organisation of dairy production in terms of supply management; urges the Commission to engage in formal talks with all the stakeholders in the sector in order to achieve this;

27.    Considers that stronger competition should be used as a means of ensuring territorial balance and more balanced remuneration for producers within the dairy value chain;

Implementation of the Milk Package

28.    Highlights the fact that implementation of the Milk Package is still at an early stage; expresses disappointment, nevertheless, with the low levels of implementation of compulsory contracts, and therefore urges that these be extended to all Member States;. calls on the Commission to carry out an in-depth study of the obstacles to implementing the Milk Package and of measures that would ensure optimal use of tools made available to the Member States;

29.    Regrets the fact that the milk package was not considered a priority in the Commission’s work programme for 2015, and requests that the Commission urgently insert this priority;

30.    Regrets the fact that it is not clear from the report whether the Commission is satisfied with the implementation of the new regulatory tool and that the Commission does not quantify how many new producer organisations, participating Member States or collective negotiations are expected; notes that the effect of the new tools on milk prices is not clear either; calls in this connection for a precise list of the effects on milk prices and an accurate record of participating producer organisations;

31.    Recommends that the Commission adopt clear objectives as regards producer organisations, contracts and collective negotiations;

32.    Recalls that Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 provides that ‘in order to ensure the viable development of production and a resulting fair standard of living for dairy farmers, their bargaining power vis-à-vis processors should be strengthened, which should result in a fairer distribution of added value along the supply chain’;

33.    Notes that the contract model has not yet been implemented as envisaged, as dairy farmers are still in a weak market position, there are no minimum standards in the contracts and cooperatives are excluded from them;

34.    Stresses that strengthening and improving contractual relations by expanding to include the entire sector, and in particular large-scale distribution, helps to ensure equitable distribution of earnings along the supply chain, allowing more value to be added, and reinforces the responsibility of stakeholders to take account of the market situation and respond accordingly; stresses the importance of risk management training and education as an integral part of the agricultural curriculum in order for farmers to cope with volatility and effectively use the risk management tools available;

35.    Highlights the risk that the industry in any given Member State may introduce unfair clauses into contracts so as to offset the objective of stability in deliveries, which is necessary for ensuring the continued viability of dairy farms;

36.    Notes that the sector could further explore the potential offered by longer-term integrated supply chain contracts, forwards contracts, fixed-margin contracts, and the opportunity to ‘lock in’ a milk price reflective of production costs for a set period of time; believes that the option to make use of new instruments in contractual relations should be available and that contract mediation tools must also be made available;

Role of producer organisations

37.    Highlights the important role of producer organisations (POs) and their associations in increasing the bargaining power and influence producers have in the supply chain, as well as in research and innovation, and regrets the fact that there have only been limited moves towards setting up POs, particularly in the new Member States; considers that the rules for recognition of POs should be strengthened to increase more effectively the influence of producers in the negotiation of contracts; highlights that POs can benefit from financial support under Pillar II and urges further incentivisation at EU and Member State level, for example through making further information available and reducing the administrative burden on stakeholders wishing to create and join POs and to participate in different ways in their activities and to conduct educational activities among producers about POs as a tool for helping to address imbalances in the supply chain; considers it necessary to improve the capacity for regulation and organisation of the market by POs;

38.    Defends the need to improve the provisions of the Milk Package with a view primarily to setting up producer organisations with a greater capacity for management and negotiation on the market;

39.    Notes that the establishment of POs could be promoted by providing proactive political support to encourage farmers to regard POs as appropriate instruments;

40.    Emphasises the importance of facilitating information exchanges and dialogue with producers and producer organisations (POs) in order to enable them to take into account market developments and to anticipate crises;

41.    Insists on the need for producer organisations to be of an adequate size and to be legally linked to the output of their farmer members, since merely representative POs have no real capacity to ensure compliance with the contracted quality and quantity conditions and lack interest in acting as serious negotiators with the industry;

42.    Calls for greater support for the establishment of independent producer organisations through more widespread information mechanisms and support for management activities, so as to encourage farmers to see them as effective instruments and participate therein;

43.    Invites the Commission to promote the interprofessional management tools set out in Regulation (EU) 1308/2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets;

44.    Underlines the role of cooperatives in providing long-term stability for their members; asks the Commission to facilitate sharing of best practice;

45.    Notes the significance of establishing Interbranch Organisations for ensuring transparency and sharing of best practice;

46.    Reminds the Commission of the importance of transparency across the whole supply chain if the sector is to encourage stakeholders to respond to market signals; notes the increased importance of accurate and timely information in the post-quota market;

Strengthening the Milk Market Observatory

47.    Welcomes the establishment of the Milk Market Observatory (MMO) and emphasises its importance in disseminating and analysing market data, and calls for an increased role for the MMO; recommends the definition of a market index comprising trends in product quotations, milk prices and production costs; recommends that the Commission take the necessary action to ensure that the MMO is in a position to, on the one hand, produce accurate data in real time and, on the other, communicate earlier and more frequent warnings, crisis anticipation and recommended actions based on market analysis and predictive tools to the Commission, Member States and relevant stakeholders when the market index falls below a certain level, and when the market situation so requires; considers that the information provided by the MMO should involve updates on market and price trends, data on production costs and the interactions between beef and milk production, consumption, stock situation, prices and exchanges of imported or exported milk at European level; notes that it is equally useful to integrate the monitoring of production costs and of international markets in order to identify any trends and seize export opportunities; stresses that the data should be easily accessible and user-friendly for all stakeholders;

48.    Underlines the importance of Member States providing the relevant information to the MMO and of the MMO publishing the monthly data it receives in a timely manner for the benefit of all stakeholders, and recommends that the Commission consider additional means of ensuring this information is received on time; calls on the Commission to specify the rules for data transmission by Member States in order to ensure that the information is comparable at European level;

49.    Calls on the Commission to set up comprehensively equipped separate structures for data acquisition for all agricultural sectors;

CAP measures and the dairy industry

50.    Notes that, under Pillar I, optional coupled support is a tool available to assist the dairy sector, while under Pillar II producers can avail themselves of advisory services to support business decisions and sound financial management – if necessary, Member States can use insurance measures such as the Income Stabilisation Tool and can also determine the grouping and targeting within the sector of rural development measures with a higher level of aid;

51.    Calls on the sector to investigate the development of further insurance tools when the market is strong, in order to curb milk price volatility and so as not to deprive European dairy farms of income; stresses the need to study the possibility of incorporating tools aimed at risk management, such as programmes based on the protection of margins, into Pillar 1 of the CAP;

52.    Emphasises that, in applying Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013, a number of Member States opted for an incomplete and slow internal convergence process, once more favouring lowland farming, which has good working conditions;

53.    Defends the need to review the requirements for triggering the income stabilisation mechanism available within Rural Development, as it considers the demand for losses of 30 % for accessing Community aid to be excessive;

Potential for the EU dairy sector on the world market

54.    Points out that global dairy demand is predicted to grow by 2 % per annum, offering opportunities for products of EU origin, but stresses that these export opportunities must be balanced by a stable domestic market, the latter representing more than 90 % of the dairy product market in Europe; notes, however, that the market is increasingly dominated by dried dairy products;

55.    Points out that the EU remains the first agricultural importer in the world and that growth in milk production for exports is reliant on the import of feed and fodder;

56.    Underlines that bilateral trade negotiations may represent strategic opportunities for the EU dairy sector, in connection with which it calls on the Commission to engage more in opening new markets in third countries and removing trade barriers, and urges the Commission to take due regard of ‘protected designation of origin’ (PDO), ‘protected geographical indications’ (PGI) and ‘traditional speciality guaranteed’ (TSG) concerns during trade negotiations, subject to the preservation and enhancement of European quality and health and safety standards in production and in the supply of products to consumers;

57.    Stresses the continuing need to identify and develop new markets, increase the EU global market share, secure fair access for EU exporters and stimulate sustainable export growth; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to take the necessary action and to participate more actively in the identification of new export markets; takes the view that future opportunities must be explored by improving commercial relations with third countries and dynamising the dairy industry, and emphasises the importance of being aware of the consumption trends on these markets in order to build the capacity for timely responses to future changes;

58.    Notes furthermore that EU companies face competition from a few powerful global exporters (including New Zealand, the United States and Australia) which have historically had access to Asian markets and which have a decisive influence on the price of dairy products on the global market;

Promotion and quality schemes

59.    Points out that the dairy sector could benefit from increased promotion initiatives on domestic and third-country markets under new Promotional Measures and urges producers to participate in the new campaigns after the entry into force in 2016 of the new regulations on promotion, taking into account that an increase in EU financial support is planned;

60.    Stresses that the need for the sector’s greatest potential for creating value does not lie solely in the production of unprocessed products and considers that full use should be made of research measures to develop innovative high-value dairy products in high-growth markets, such as medicinal nutritional products and nutritional products for infants, the elderly and athletes;

61.    Notes that the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI) under the Horizon 2020 programme can support innovative projects contributing to a sustainable and highly productive dairy sector in order to meet the global demand in high-value dairy products;

62.    Underlines the importance of reinforcing the aid scheme for the distribution of milk in educational establishments, encouraging the participation of POs and giving priority to local dairy products and short supply chains, with a view to contributing to the promotion of healthy eating habits among European consumers;

63.    Notes that the sector has so far not engaged with the ‘protected designation of origin’ (PDO), ‘protected geographical indications’ (PGI) and ‘traditional speciality guaranteed’ (TSG) schemes in a meaningful and equal manner across all Member States; calls on the Commission to simplify access to, and the administrative requirements for the approval of, these schemes for small producers and businesses, to reduce the administrative burden associated with the application process, retaining them as the quality benchmark for European products, unquestioned among EU export markets, and to undertake targeted promotion of marketing activities for these products;

64.    Calls on the Commission to simplify the rules concerning the regulation of supply of cheese with a ‘protected designation of origin’ or ‘protected geographical indication’, in particular as regards the minimum conditions required for the approval of those schemes;

65.    Urges the Commission to publish as soon as possible the report referred to in Article 26 of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, in relation to an impact analysis of the implementation of the mandatory indication of country of origin or place of provenance of milk and dairy products; regrets that the Community Executive has not yet prepared this report, which was to be submitted by 31 December 2014;

Managing risk in the dairy sector

66.    Stresses that existing ‘safety-net’ measures such as public intervention and private storage aid alone are not sufficient tools for addressing persistent volatility or a crisis in the milk sector; adds that the intervention prices are too low, have no connection with current market prices any more and have proved to be ineffective in guaranteeing adequate and stable farm-gate prices in the long term;

67.    Reminds the Commission of its obligation under Article 219 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 not only to address actual market disturbance, but also to take immediate action to prevent it, including in cases where action would prevent such threats from materialising, continuing or turning into a more severe or prolonged disturbance, or where delaying immediate action would threaten to cause or aggravate the disturbance or would increase the extent of the measures which would later be necessary to address the threat or disturbance or would be detrimental to production or market conditions;

68     Calls on the Commission to engage with stakeholders in the sector and to implement more responsive and realistic safety-net provisions based on the recommendations of the MMO, which provide safety in crises in which a substantial decrease in milk prices and a simultaneous substantial rise in commodity prices have a severe impact on the margin of revenue for farmers; calls for the intervention to be updated to reflect production costs and adapted as the market changes;

69.    Calls on the Commission to implement more responsive and realistic safety-net provisions, and for the intervention price to better reflect real production costs and real market prices, and to be adapted as the market changes; asks the Commission, therefore, to immediately adapt the intervention prices; acknowledges, furthermore, that the export refund should be restored temporarily in the case of a market crisis based on objective criteria;

70.    Calls on the Commission to work together with stakeholders to fix indicators on production costs which take into account energy costs, fertilisers, animal feed, salaries, rent and other key input costs, and to revise the reference prices accordingly; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to work together with stakeholders to define a market index comprising the trend in product quotations, milk prices and production costs, which should serve as a basis for the implementation of supply management instruments when the index falls to a predefined level and should also serve to suspend supply management measures when the index recovers;

71.    Underlines that current experience of the Russian embargo shows that it is desirable to have guidelines that are discussed between the Member States, the Commission and Parliament and which serve as a guide for the activation of measures;

72.    Underlines the importance of a more responsive and realistic crisis instrument, and recommends that the Commission, together with Parliament, as co-legislator, engage with the sector on the possibility of using risk-management instruments such as the futures markets to take advantage of the volatility in the sector in order to increase its competitiveness; considers that new income stabilisation instruments should also be studied, such as income insurance or implementing a dairy Margin Protection Programme;

73.    Requests that the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States and participants from the dairy sector, develop effective and appropriate instruments to safeguard against sudden significant falls in the price of milk;

Unfair trading practices in the dairy supply chain

74.    Stresses that dairy producers, especially small-scale dairy producers, are particularly vulnerable to imbalances in the supply chain, in particular owing to fluctuating demand, rising production costs and decreasing farm-gate prices, but also to the economic priorities in each Member State; considers that the downward pressure on prices by retailers from own-brand labelling and the persistent use of liquid milk as a ‘loss leader’ by retailers undermines the work and investment of producers in the dairy sector and devalues the end product for the consumer; defends the need to introduce codes of good practice among the various participants in the food supply chain; stresses the need to find mechanisms that effectively protect farmers from abuse by industry and distributors and their dominant position in the retail market, and asks the Commission to present its proposal on the containment of unfair trading practices as soon as possible and to consider a sector-specific approach to competition law and unfair trading practices;

75.    Considers that unfair commercial practices severely restrict the sector’s ability to invest and adapt, and that it is necessary to combat them at both EU and Member State level;

76.    Notes that dairy producers will be in an even weaker position without a crisis programme, while the milk industry and large corporate food groups will get more power;

77.    Calls for wider inclusion of dairy farmers and their organisations into food supply chain management mechanisms, groups and initiatives;

78.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)

OJ L 94, 30.3.2012, p. 38.

(2)

OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 671.

(3)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0577.

(4)

OJ C 199E, 7.7.2012, p. 58.

(5)

OJ C 224 E, 19.8.2010, p. 20.

(6)

OJ L 42, 14.2.2006, p. 1.

(7)

OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, p. 1.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Challenges and opportunities facing the dairy sector

In 2003, with the Mid Term Review of the then CAP, the Member States of the EU agreed to put an end to the quota regime from 31 March 2015. The ending of the quota for milk production after thirty years presents both challenges and opportunities for the dairy sector.

Volatility will be a continuing challenge facing the dairy sector. Dairy farmers are particularly vulnerable to income variations due to high capital costs, volatile dairy commodity prices and fluctuating input and energy costs. Furthermore, dairy farmers often occupy a weak position in the overall food supply chain and are particularly exposed to unfair trading practices. The ageing demographic of dairy producers is also a matter of concern and encouraging and supporting generational renewal via new and existing tools is essential for future growth and sustainability for the sector.

Overall the medium to long term prospects for the dairy sector are positive on both the internal and world market. Demand is strong, particularly in emerging economies. The OECD and FAO, in their most recent Agricultural Outlook report, predict that global dairy demand will grow by around 2% per annum up to 2023.

Identifying and securing export markets should be prioritised by the sector and promotion of dairy products on third markets must be targeted and effective. The improvement of knowledge transfer, research, innovation and measures to improve quality and labelling will bring further added value to EU dairy products and increase their competitiveness on the internal and world market.

The opportunities for the sector for growth and development via instruments under the European Strategic Fund for Investment should be fully explored and the sector should be facilitated and assisted in reaching its potential, developing sustainable jobs and boosting economic growth in rural areas across the EU.

In many disadvantaged areas and outermost regions dairying remains the sole generator of farm income and employment and its continuation is essential to avoid land abandonment. While it is too early to fully examine the effects of the Milk Package on the milk sector in disadvantaged regions, it is clear that the measures put forward under the Package must be combined with the options open to Member States under the CAP to support farmers and ensure the continued economic and social contribution of small-scale dairy farms in these regions. The Commission’s Report raises the possibility of a more targeted approach to assisting disadvantaged regions, given the heterogeneity of these areas between Member States.

In recent months, a drop in demand from external markets, global price volatility and the Russian embargo have placed increased pressure on the sector and downward pressure on prices. Though the swift action taken by the European Commission to address the impact of the Russian embargo, particularly in the Baltic Member States, is to be commended, it is clear that the crisis measures and tools the European Union have in place are not designed to respond to the realities of the modern dairy sector.

The existing safety net measures such as public intervention and private storage aid are not suitable to address persistent volatility or a crisis in the milk sector. The Commission’s Report noted that there are doubts on the capacity of the EU regulatory framework to deal with episodes of extreme market volatility or with a crisis situation after the expiry of the quota regime, especially with a view to ensuring the balanced development of milk production across the EU and avoiding extreme concentration in the most productive areas. In this regard, it is necessary for the Commission to implement a more responsive and realistic safety net and for the intervention price to be more reflective of production costs. The current price, unchanged since 2008, needs to be revised to take into account increasing production and input costs and should be revised on a regular basis.

Rapporteurs position on the operation of the Milk Package

The Milk Package, in force since October 2012, offered farmers tools to meet the challenges facing the dairy sector. Strengthened contractual relations and increased bargaining power via Producer Organisations and Interbranch Organisations were introduced. The Rapporteur remains of the view that measures put forward to improve transparency and increased comprehensive data analysis of EU milk production are essential to a sustainable and functioning dairy sector.

The use of formalised written contracts and strengthening of contractual relations offered farmers a strong tool, and reinforced the responsibility of the operators in the dairy chain to take into account market signals, improve price transmission and adapt supply to demand, as well as help to avoid unfair commercial practices. Member States were obliged to formally recognise Producer Organisations (POs), but were given flexibility to determine whether a minimum number of members or a minimum volume of marketable production would constitute a PO.

Implementation of the measures put forward in the Package is uneven across the Member States and take up has been disappointing. The overall strength of the dairy sector and favourable market conditions in the intervening period have been put forward as reasons for the reluctance of producers to organise themselves in POs. Other barriers need to be identified and addressed, such as the lack of awareness of the role of a PO. The Rapporteur has recommended further incentivisation to create and join POs as a tool to address imbalances in the supply chain.

Commission report on the operation of the Milk Package

Under Article 225(b) of the CMO Regulation, the Commission was required to present a report to Parliament and Council by 30 June 2014 on the development of the market situation in the EU milk sector and the operation of the Milk Package. The Commission’s report covered three main areas:

•  Market analysis

•  The operation and take-up of the Milk Package in Member States

•  The position of dairy farmers in disadvantaged regions

The report notes that under the revised CAP a multitude of tools exist to help the dairy sector in exceptional circumstances, for example coupled support and additional safety net provisions and Rural Development Programme schemes, however the report does not rule out the possibility of additional tools to cope with the end of quotas.

The report also acknowledges that a limited number of Member States have applied rules to regulate the supply of PDO/PGI cheeses, upon the request of a PO, Inter-Branch Organisation or a PDO/PGI group.

In terms of the operation of the Milk Package, the report suggests that it has improved relationships throughout the supply chain although it is still too early to see significant effects on the milk sector.

Supporting a competitive and sustainable dairy sector

Given that the level of implementation of measures under the Milk Package has been disappointing, the Rapporteur encourages stakeholders along the dairy supply chain to avail of the measures under the Milk Package, as well as offering recommendations on new instruments which should be considered by the Commission and industry.

The Rapporteur foresees the Milk Market Observatory (MMO), launched in April 2014, as playing a crucial and enhanced role in the EU dairy sector in the years ahead. The MMO disseminates and analyses market data, allowing stakeholders to make better financial and investment decisions. In the Commission’s June 2014 report, it was envisaged that the MMO would ‘send early warnings to the Commission services’ allowing the Commission to act more rapidly in the initial stages of a crisis.

This report puts forward the position that the Commission should take necessary action to ensure the MMO can fulfil its full potential. The information provided by the MMO should involve updates on market and price trends, and should be more easily accessible and user-friendly than its current format. The MMO should be supported in its operation by Member States providing the relevant information in a timely manner, and also recommends that the Commission explore additional means of ensuring this information is received on time. In December 2014 as many as 9 Member States did not provide the relevant information to the Commission on time.

The importance of accurate and timely information in the post-quota era will be significantly increased, and the MMO should aim to provide more frequent and up-to-date information to all relevant stakeholders. The data that is made available could assist in strengthening contractual relations and could also be used in workable dairy trade derivatives.

The Commission should explore the possibility of a futures market to bring medium-term predictability to pricing structures and increase the sector’s competitiveness. Such a market would permit producers and processors alike to hedge against risk by knowing prices in advance, allowing for better investment decisions.

The strengthening of contractual relations, foreseen in the Milk Package, represents a concrete method of ensuring a more equitable distribution along the supply chain. The report asks the Commission and other actors in the EU dairy sector to explore the potential offered by longer term integrated supply chain contracts, forwards contracts, fixed margin contracts, A B contracts and the opportunity to ‘lock in’ a milk price for a set period of time. There are many examples of the industry itself moving towards these measures and they should be considered further, as hedging instruments, such as fixed-margin contracts could offer certainty, flexibility and responsive options to farmers. Long-term planning and farm management to manage volatility is more important than ever and through contracts the competitiveness and sustainability of the sector for farmers and for supply could be strengthened.


OPINION of the Committee on Budgetary Control (25.2.2015)

for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

on the prospects for the EU dairy sector – Review of the implementation of the Dairy Package

(2014/2146(INI))

Draftsman: Petri Sarvamaa

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Budgetary Control calls on the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

–   having regard to the report of the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the development of the dairy market situation and the operation of the ‘Milk Package’ provisions (COM(2014)0354) (hereinafter ‘the report’),

–   having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007(1), and in particular to Article 225(b) of that regulation,

–   having regard to the report of the Commission of December 2014 on the ‘Prospects for the EU agricultural markets and income 2014-2024’,

1.  Points out that the Commission’s report was published before the Russian embargo was imposed and is therefore not an accurate reflection of the situation in the milk sector;

2.  Stresses that the price volatility issue is the main challenge faced by milk farmers;

3.  Notes in this regard that the recent Russian embargo on agricultural products has dramatically demonstrated that the regulatory framework for dealing with episodes of extreme market volatility should be reinforced;

4.  Notes that the price evolution does not seem to be homogeneous across Member States and that the evolution of milk prices in real terms and its causes could have been more strongly highlighted in the report;

5.  Recommends that, in order to prevent further market instability, previous decisions on milk quotas should be maintained and the milk quota system should not be adjusted during the final year of the system;

6.  Recalls that Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 provides that ‘in order to ensure the viable development of production and a resulting fair standard of living for dairy farmers, their bargaining power vis-à-vis processors should be strengthened, which should result in a fairer distribution of added value along the supply chain’;

7.  Regrets the fact that it is not clear from the report whether the Commission is satisfied with the implementation of the new regulatory tool and that the Commission does not quantify how many new producer organisations, participating Member States or collective negotiations are expected; notes that the effect of the new tools on milk prices is not clear either; calls in this connection for a precise list of the effects on milk prices and an accurate record of participating producer organisations;

8.  Calls on the Commission to carry out, by the end of 2015, a Member State by Member State assessment of the impact of collective agreements on production and prices;

9.  Recommends that the Commission adopt clear objectives as regards producer organisations, contracts and collective negotiations;

10. Stresses that without a clear review of the role of the producer and interbranch organisations and the expected impact of the new regulatory tool on milk prices, the adaptation of the Milk Package tool is not possible;

11. Looks favourably upon the setting up of a Milk Market Observatory, but emphasises that there should be a clear price and volume information tool that is useful to farmers; takes the view that the Observatory’s role should be to help the Commission analyse the milk market in this new context, to provide more accurate market data and information on market trends and to highlight any risk of market imbalances, with the Commission then taking the necessary decisions;

12. Stresses that more efficient use should be made of this Observatory by setting crisis levels in line with indicators laid down for the whole of the European Union, which would enable preventive and early warning mechanisms to be applied;

13. Notes, that according to the Commission, ‘Member States did not report a significant effect of the Milk Package on the milk sector in disadvantaged regions notably because the provisions have been implemented only recently […]’ and ‘the situations and developments […] are quite heterogeneous and would require a targeted approach’;

14. Recommends that the support coupled to milk production and support related to milk production in disadvantaged regions should be developed and maintained within a long-term strategic approach;

15. Recommends that the legal framework for less favoured areas should be reinforced;

16. Stresses that the evolution of the market situation and the effectiveness of the instruments should be evaluated after the milk quota system has come to an end; a follow-up report should be available within two years of the end of the quota system, in 2017.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

24.2.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

26

0

1

Members present for the final vote

Nedzhmi Ali, Inés Ayala Sender, Zigmantas Balčytis, Ryszard Czarnecki, Dennis de Jong, Tamás Deutsch, Martina Dlabajová, Jens Geier, Ingeborg Gräßle, Rina Ronja Kari, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Fulvio Martusciello, Dan Nica, Gilles Pargneaux, Georgi Pirinski, Petri Sarvamaa, Bart Staes, Michael Theurer, Marco Valli, Derek Vaughan, Anders Primdahl Vistisen, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Karin Kadenbach, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Julia Pitera, Patricija Šulin

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Judith Sargentini

(1)

         OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 671.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

8.6.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

34

9

2

Members present for the final vote

John Stuart Agnew, Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Eric Andrieu, Richard Ashworth, José Bové, Paul Brannen, Daniel Buda, Nicola Caputo, Matt Carthy, Viorica Dăncilă, Michel Dantin, Paolo De Castro, Albert Deß, Diane Dodds, Herbert Dorfmann, Norbert Erdős, Luke Ming Flanagan, Beata Gosiewska, Martin Häusling, Esther Herranz García, Jan Huitema, Peter Jahr, Jarosław Kalinowski, Elisabeth Köstinger, Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, Mairead McGuinness, Nuno Melo, Giulia Moi, Ulrike Müller, James Nicholson, Marijana Petir, Laurenţiu Rebega, Bronis Ropė, Jordi Sebastià, Lidia Senra Rodríguez, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Marc Tarabella, Janusz Wojciechowski, Marco Zullo

Substitutes present for the final vote

Franc Bogovič, Angélique Delahaye, Stefan Eck, Fredrick Federley, Momchil Nekov, Ricardo Serrão Santos

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Martina Anderson, Ivo Vajgl

Last updated: 23 June 2015Legal notice