After eight months of brainstorming, an EU expert group has drummed up seven recommendations to stabilise the dairy market and ensure a fair income for producers.
The group proposed measures to enhance the use of written contracts in the dairy supply chain and recommended increasing the collective bargaining power of dairy producers (EURACTIV 19/01/10).
Based on the recommendations put forward in the final report by the High Level Group on Milk, adopted yesterday (15 June), the European Commission is planning to present a package of legislative measures by the end of the year.
The proposed measures may set a precedent for similar action in other agricultural sectors (EURACTIV 08/09/09).
'Contractualisation' of dairy sector: A precedent for other farm commodities?
The experts call on the Commission to draft either guidelines or a legislative proposal covering contractual relations between milk producers and milk processors.
Formal written contracts regarding the price, volume and timing of deliveries of raw milk and the duration of contracts must be further developed, they say.
Member states could make use of these contracts compulsory, the group stresses.
Such 'contractualisation' at EU level between producers of agricultural commodities and industry is not currently possible.
As for the collective bargaining power of milk producers, the expert group invites the Commission to consider a legislative proposal to allow dairy farmer producer organisations to jointly negotiate their contract terms, including price. Whether permanent or temporary, such provisions should be subject to review, the report notes.
Other recommendations relate to the possible role of "interbranch organisations" in the dairy sector, increasing transparency in the supply chain with monitoring via the European Food Price Monitoring Tool, marketing standards and origin labelling of dairy products.