The European Union agreed steps yesterday (23 July) to help stabilise falling dairy prices, scrapping the minimum price for cheese to qualify for export subsidies and extending purchases of butter and milk powder.
A spokesman for the Europen Commission said the abolition of the minimum price rule would allow more bulk cheeses to be exported with export subsidies and help remove surplus from the market.
The minimum price for cheeses to qualify for export subsidies is currently 230 euros per 100kg.
The spokesman said the existing 1 March-31 August period during which the Commission could buy surplus butter and milk powder from the market had been extended until the end of November.
This temporary step would allow time for EU member states and the European Parliament to examine a Commission proposal to extend the period until the end of August next year, he said.
EU member states, particularly France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, have faced protests for several months by dairy farmers calling for help to deal with slumping milk prices.
EU dairy markets have deteriorated sharply over the last 12 months. After a price rise in 2007, milk prices have dropped substantially, and have fallen some 30% in France over the past year.
Earlier this week, the EU executive ruled out altering milk quotas, despite new protests by dairy farmers and warnings that they will face more challenges (EURACTIV 23/07/09).
(EURACTIV with Reuters.)