Exceptional measures announced on 22 April,as a further response to the Coronavirus crisis include granting private storage aid, flexibility for market support programmes and exceptional derogation from EU competition rules. To lighten the burden of the coronavirus crisis laying on the shoulders of producers and the dairy industry and not to recreate a “mountains of milk”, a voluntary volume reduction scheme at EU level should be proposed which will help reducing the pressure on the milk prices. According to European Committee of the Regions (CoR), producers will have to be given enough compensation per litre of milk they do not produce, in order to face economic consequences.
The Commission’s plan to counter the increasingly spiralling crisis in the dairy sector with aid for private storage has previously shown to be inefficient in halting the crisis of 2015-2017. Precious time was lost with these measures, until in late 2016 the volume reduction programme was co-ordinated by the EU Commission which finally put an end to the slump in milk prices.
After her meeting with the European Milk Board, Ulrika Landergren (SE/Renew Europe), President of the CoR’s Commission for Natural Resources, confirmed its position: “In the current situation which obliges us more than ever to make efficient use of available resources, it is crucial to regulate agricultural markets to avert a sectoral crisis. Drawing conclusions from the previous crisis in the milk sector, it is less costly to act from the beginning rather than acting afterwards. Since the volumes of milk put into storage also exert downward pressure on the market prices, the Council’s decision would only make sense if the storage measure proposed by the commission were limited and complemented by a EU volume reduction programme”.