|Italy imports most of its fresh milk|
‘ What if each day you have to bring some money to your job to be able to work. Would you do that? I don’t think so.’
This quote was taken from a Austrian milk farmer at a recent conference on the CAPreform 2020 in the European Parliament in Brussels. To see a sober farmer fight for his tears when he explains that he advised his son to break his family tradition and to find another job than that of a dairy farmer, you know something serious is going on.
The CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) has mainly lead to milk surpluses and thus low prices for the European farmers. Subsidies guaranteed minimum prices for the produced milk which encouraged many dairy farmers to produce as much as possible. These surpluses have later been dumped in 3rd world countries as milk powder and incredible low income for the farmers.
Although the CAP has gone through different smaller and bigger reforms - which alluded to the negative effects of earlier policies - the situation for the dairy farmers still not seems to be very hopeful. Big dairy farmers are under contract of large companies which control their income: When a farmer doesn’t agree on the price per liter milk, the company easily decides to move to another farmer.
While most supermarkets offer fair produce form far away countries, we should consider how fair our ‘own’ farmers can farm. We (Western consumers) tend to shop as cheap as possible thereby forgetting what it did cost to produce our food.
In Germany they have set-up Die faire Milch company which gives farmers a good price for their milk and ensures high quality milk produced by cows which were not feed on genetic soya. In Italy Granarolo brings the consumers fresh milk from their own region to the nearest supermarket. And recently a Dutch based worldwide company decided to give a price for organic milk which is independent for the price of bio-industry produced milk.
So things seem to go in the right direction. But – once again – things cannot be realized by one part of the chain. Farmers need to be friendly to the planet thereby delivering high quality produce. Retailers should look for local produce and pay the producer a fair price. And consumers should not forget what effort it did take to produce their food. Don’t just buy the cheapest product on offer.
Pay a fair price as you like to be paid fair as well!