Archive: EU Commission’s High Level Expert Group on Milk meets for the first time

Published 16 October 09

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Following on from the EU Commission's proposed measures to look at stabilising the dairy sector and producers' income, the newly formed High Level Experts' Group on Milk met for first time in Brussels on 13 October. 

The objective of the group is to look at the medium and long term future of the dairy sector; particularly in respect of the potential effects of the phase-out of quotas by April 2015.  It will meet on a monthly basis and is due to submit a final report to the Commission in June 2010.

At the initial meeting, the discussions were focused on the issues surrounding contractual relations and bargaining power in the dairy supply chain.  The questions raised in the discussions were:

1)      Is there a need for formalised contracts between dairy producers and processors to cover the supply of raw milk and do they help to reduce volatility?

-          Should they be obligatory for all deliveries or be the choice of both parties?

2)      What should be the essential elements of such contracts, particularly in terms of pricing, delivery volumes and duration of the contract? 

3)      How should breaches of contracts be handled?

4)      How can the bargaining power of farmers be increased and what role will farmer organisations play in this context? 

Two further meetings on this topic are due to take place on 10 November and 8 December 2009. Stakeholders including producer and processor organisations, national competition authorities, academics, consumers and distributors will have the opportunity to attend and provide input to the discussions. A conference is also planned for March 2010 with an internet consultation expected to launch in January and close shortly before the conference.