In an open letter to the president of the European Commission, Claude Junker, the European Milk Board (EMB) – the lobbying body for milk producers across 15 member states – yesterday claimed that the farm commissioner was ignoring the crisis facing the dairy sector.
“Phil Hogan does not have any solutions, nor does he want any! He however has displayed well enough his professional incompetence and his disregard for farmers. This is why we, as representatives of European dairy farmers, call you to act accordingly,” stated the letter.
“Mr President, remove this incompetent commissioner from his office,” it continued.
The organisation was highly critical of remarks made by Hogan earlier in the year where he appeared to express some doubt as to whether dairy farmers were selling milk at below their cost of production, with Hogan stating that although they claimed that this was the case, they still continued to produce milk.
“Such declarations are not in line with the reality of the market and show the commissioner’s lack of expertise in the field of agriculture,” said EMB president, Romuald Schaber.
He said that under Article 39 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, it was the commissioner’s responsibility to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community and called for an urgent meeting with Junker to discuss the situation.
• Meanwhile, on the home front, troubled dairy co-operative First Milk claimed that recent financial results showed that its turnaround plan was working. Operating profit for the first six months of the year was £1.1m compared to a loss of £7.6m for the same period last year.
The co-op’s chief executive, Mike Gallacher also predicted that the results for the second six months to March 2016 would also show a positive operating profit – compared to an operating loss of £12.3m in second half last year.
Gallacher said that the board was now confident that the changes would deliver improved milk prices for the co-op’s producers and a more sustainable business model for its farmer shareholders.
It was also announced yesterday that First Milk had sold its Glenfield Dairy business in Fife to Graham’s, with Graham’s managing director, Robert Graham, commenting: “This allows us to extend our product range.”