31 March 2015
Many large scale farmers in North Devon will welcome the move to scrap the EU Milk Quota – its removal came into force on 31 March – which has in fact been on the books since 2003. but it could also have a very harmful effect on smaller mixed farms in North Devon which are environmentally more sustainable.
MEP Molly Scott Cato who is on the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee says "It was time to end the quota but simply discontinuing it will leave smaller dairy farmers vulnerable to crisis situations, like oversupply and price shocks. Further liberalisation would lead to an industrialisation of the dairy sector, with farms compelled to expand and take on debts to compete or close down. This would undermine attempts to create a more sustainable agricultural model.
Instead, smaller farmers should be encouraged to produce quality dairy products in a sustainable manner. Introducing origin labelling rules could promote shorter supply chains, while introducing a compulsory contract system would ensure farmers have greater power in the supply chain.”
Ricky Knight Local Councillor and Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for North Devon said that “the number of dairy farmers in the UK has halved in the last decade and the recent fall in milk prices has been disastrous for many of those remaining. Something must be done to make dairy farming more sustainable and the best way to do that is going to be through mixed organic farming rather than just laying the path open for ever greater industrialization of agriculture which is depleting soil fertility at a disturbing speed.”
Dr Scott Cato believes there is now an opportunity for the EU to put in place appropriate measures to benefit small scale dairy farmers. The Greens have made a series of demands following the end of milk quota . Molly Scott Cato and other Greens will join an action in front of the European Parliament on 31 March organised by the European Milk Board (EMB) to protest at weaknesses in the follow-up to the milk quota system. The EMB believe that dairy farmers in Europe will now have less market power that will prevent them defending their interests.
Dr Scott Cato is also one of the group of MEPS who have written to the EU Commission on current European Pig Slaughter, expressing grave concern at a combined electrical stunning and exposure to high levels of CO2; methods which cause considerable stress and pain to animals and which could easily be replaced by more humane ones at minimal additional cost.