Hundreds of dairy farmers demonstrated outside the Friesland Foods factory in
Nijkerk on Tuesday at the start of a campaign for higher milk prices.
Farmers attached to the Dutch Dairymen Board, which represents around one-third of milk producers, say the current price of milk – 30 to 34 cents a litre – does not cover the cost of producing it.
‘We want to keep our companies and earn a fair price for our milk,’ DDB chairman Sieta van Keimperma told the demonstrators. ‘Friesland Foods is a mainstay of the European dairy industry. We want to make it clear that enough is enough.’
The organisation claims it costs around 47 cents to produce a litre of milk and blames the supermarket price war for pressurising prices to farmers. Consumers do not realise that lower prices on the shelves are passed on to farmers in the form of lower prices for their milk, the organisation says on its website.
As well as the blockade, a number of farmers are refusing to supply milk to the dairy cooperatives and food manufacturers.
The campaign is part of a European-wide effort to boost dairy farmers’ income, with similar action taking place in Italy, France, Luxemburg and Spain.
According to the agriculture economic institute Lei, the average Dutch dairy farm had an income of €84,000 last year, largely due to the rising world demand for dairy products, which boosted prices. However, costs rose almost as much as milk prices, Lei said.
Farm minister Gerda Verburg said on Tuesday that she supported an increase in the EU milk quota, a move which some dairy farmers say will further pressure prices. The EU plans to scrap the quota altogether in 2015 and allow farmers to sell as much milk as they like.
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