European Union offers milk farmers 500 million Euros to shore up prices

350 million euros will be distributed to the 28 member states. In photo: US Secretary of State John Kerry and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, at a press conference on July 18. Photograph:( Getty )

AFP Brussels, Belgium Jul 18, 2016, 01.10 PM (IST)
The European Union today announced another 500 million Euros for the bloc's farmers to help reverse the plunge in prices shaking the dairy industry, bringing the total support to one billion Euros.

Overproduction of milk since EU quotas were abolished in April 2015 triggered a collapse in prices that have not recovered despite an initial 500-million-Euro ($553 million) aid package announced in September.

"This package provides a further robust response, and means that the Commission has mobilised more than one billion Euros in new money to support hard-pressed farmers," EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said.

"Our ultimate goal is to see the much needed recovery of prices paid to farmers, so that they may make a living from their work", he added.

In a breakdown of the funds, which were announced at a meeting of EU agriculture ministers, the bloc will spend 150 million Euros to compensate independent and other producers for each litre of milk they do not produce.

Another 350 million Euros will be distributed to the 28 member states that will decide what further measures to take to support their farmers. The member states will also be able to match the funds with their own money.

A combination of factors, including changing dietary habits, slowing Chinese demand, and a Russian embargo on Western products in response to sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, has pushed down prices for beef, pork and milk.