EMB General Assembly in Lithuania sets the tone for continued efforts to create a fair dairy sector | Lietuvos pieno gamintojų asociacija

EMB General Assembly in Lithuania sets the tone for continued efforts to create a fair dairy sector

Sveikinamės iš Lietuvos - Greetings from Lithuania! This autumn, EMB members from all across Europe travelled to Lithuania in order to discuss important issues affecting the Baltic dairy sector and European dairy policy. They were warmly welcomed by the local organisation LPGA (Lietuvos pieno gamintojų asociacija). 

The hosts kicked things off with information about the difficult conditions and the lack of political support for the Lithuanian dairy sector. According to the input from our Lithuanian ranks, it seems that the Ministry for Agriculture does not really care about the survival of farming in the country and as a producer, one is left to fend for oneself. The LPGA representatives also added that in this context, they greatly value the active representation of farmers by organisations like the EMB, which make producer interests both seen and heard. 
As EMB President Kjartan Poulsen underlines, the national organisations that are members of the EMB give this umbrella organisation an important presence across Europe. “This is a constant struggle at national and EU level. We raise awareness among policy-makers about how producers are important stakeholders and must be give their due respect for their role in society. Lithuanian producers are truly facing some of the most challenging conditions in Europe. At the end of the day, there are issues in every country and important changes need to be implemented to help all European producers.”

Green Deal - cost coverage & an appropriate framework!
As stated in an overview of recent EMB activities provided at the General Assembly, the EMB has been quite clear in its Environment-Climate Paper as well as in the many discussions with EU policy-makers that the Green Deal can only work if the costs of stricter conditions are covered and an appropriate regulatory framework is put in place. This was also highlighted in an event held at the European Parliament together with other producer organisations in November. 

Stable producer structures
Social fairness, food security and sovereignty, but also the fact that dairy farmers play a key role in preserving rural and cultural landscapes are clear reasons why the EU must make stable producer structures a priority. The EMB will continue working with its members on sending the right message to policy-makers. Kjartan Poulsen enumerates some of the activities that will be carried out in this context:
  • When it comes to EU law and the Common Agricultural Policy, Article 148 on contracts has an important role to play. However, some adaptations still need to be undertaken at EU level and work needs to be done on implementation at national level in order to ensure that the desired effect is adequately achieved in terms of producer position. “The exclusion of cooperatives, for example, is an obstacle to effective implementation. The EMB as well as the different national organisations continue to work intensively to change this,” says Poulsen.  
  • Another important line of action is the call for an EU-wide regulation that makes prices above production costs obligatory. Against the background of the upcoming European Parliament elections in 2024, this tops the list of demands from European dairy farmers. The EMB is, nonetheless, very happy to see that representatives from different political groups have understood that there will be no improvements in the sector without effective market regulation. 
  • For yet another year, the EMB General Assembly illustrated how important it is for dairy farmers from different countries to meet, interact socially as well as share knowledge. These exchanges can and must be leveraged further. The EMB invites its members to contact colleagues from other countries to set up meetings and share information.  

Fair Milk - the flagship of fairness in Europe 
The holistic Fair Milk project has already been implemented in a number of countries. As a result, the reports from the individual Fair Milk countries on the different developments were closely followed by the General Assembly. The current challenges and the strong Fair Milk commitment came clearly to the forefront.  “Fair Milk brings dairy farmers together, at both political and commercial level. It is a tangible project that puts money in the pockets of dairy farmers. In addition to social fairness, Fair Milk also embodies a lot of creativity, excellent ideas, international cooperation and a wonderful spirit,” says Boris Gondouin, who is in charge of Fair Milk within the EMB. 
The General Assembly was rich in content and expertise, in engaging discussions and in heartfelt encounters. The EMB warmly thanks the Lithuanian representatives from the LPGA for the stellar organisation. “We were treated to amazing hospitality and we all felt at home with our colleagues in this beautiful country,” says Kjartan Poulsen summarising the two-day meeting in Vilnius.   
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