German dairy producers are demanding a fair price for their milkImage: AP
Milk Farmers Protest
April 16, 2009
The German Farmers' Association, DBV, is demanding that the government take drastic steps against falling milk prices, which are now at historic lows.
DBV President Gerd Sonnleitner has warned that milk producers will be unable to stay afloat at the current prices they receive, which can be as low as 20 cents per liter.
He said the situation would change only if producers received low-interest grants from the German government or advance payments from the European Union.
In addition, Sonnleitner demanded that supermarkets stop gagging milk producers and assume greater social responsibility.
"German consumers are shopping more economically," Sonnleitner said. In addition, agriculture exports have decreased dramatically.
His calls are being echoed by Bavarian Agriculture Minister Helmut Brunner, who has said that Chancellor Angela Merkel needs to give the issue "top priority."
"With the price of butter lower than it was after the war, surely consumers must also realize that something is not right," Brunner said.
Current milk prices stand at about 25 cents per liter, which is 13 cents less than this time last year. Germany's milk producers' union, BDM, estimates that it costs approximately 40 cents to produce one liter of milk.
The calls came as dairy farmers across Germany were gearing up for a series of protests.
"The milk producers' demonstrations show what an emergency this is. In the long run, no business can live on 24 cents or less for a liter of milk," said Kirsten Tackmann, agriculture spokeswoman for the Left party.
"A new summit focused on milk prices only makes sense if it really truly leads to effective, binding prices changes," she said.
Dairy producer Johann Burfeind said he is seeking dialogue.
"It's about safeguarding our future … we need an arrangement that restricts overproduction, which causes prices to fall," Burfeind said.
Earlier this month, dairy farmers from several nations rallied in Prague against low milk prices and EU rates.
The German Farmers' Association is demanding that the EU milk quota be reduced by two to three percent.
Just this month though, the EU voted to increase the quota by one percent, and plans to have production limits completely abolished from 2015.
Meanwhile, German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told the Rheinische Post newspaper that round table discussions would be held on April 28 to discuss the nation's milk prices.