Price transmission in the dairy supply chain

DG AGRI’s Milk Market Observatory (MMO) is now proving its worth as a source of up-to-date data on milk and dairy product market developments. It is also an excellent source for historical time-series statistics which allow us to see patterns in the data and to develop hypotheses about the behaviour of actors in the food chain.
The chart below taken from the MMO shows the evolution of two indicators of producer prices for raw milk. One is the weighted average price that EU farmers received for raw milk at real fat and protein content (the ‘producer price’). The other is a hypothetical price, the farmgate milk price equivalent (FMPE), which is the price processors would be expected to pay based on the going market prices for butter and skimmed milk powder after deducting an average processing cost.

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The voluntary milk supply reduction measure in the July 2016 farm aid package

Last week the Commission proposed at the July AGRIFISH Council meeting a further aid package for farmers worth €500 million of EU money (and up to €850 million if Member States take up the opportunity to add national financing). This brings the total additional EU financing to support farmers since 2014 to €1.5 billion. The money for the latest package comes from unspent funds in the CAP budget and does not involve making use of the crisis reserve. In his address to COMAGRI outlining the package the following day Commissioner Hogan thanked President Juncker and the budget Commissioner Vice-President Georgieva for their support in making the package possible.

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Council supports voluntary milk reduction scheme

Yesterday, the Agriculture Council agreed on a package of 13 measures to bring relief to agricultural markets in difficulty. Most attention has focused on the Commission’s willingness to invoke Article 222 of the CMO Regulation to permit producer organisations and recognised interbranch organisations in the dairy sector to introduce voluntary measures to reduce milk supplies, financed by member state funds. This attention is due more to the unusual nature of the measure rather than an assessment of its likely effectiveness.

The measure was put forward by Commissioner Hogan in his address to the Council. The agreement is summarised here in the Presidency Council conclusions and here in this DG AGRI press release following the meeting.

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€500 million farm aid package announced

The farm aid package announced by the Commission (in the form of Vice-President Jyrki Katainen in the absence of Commissioner Hogan due to illness) at the extraordinary Agriculture Council yesterday exceeded the expectations raised by the Presidency background paper in a number of respects (the elements of which related to dairying I discussed in this post), but fell short of what some Ministers had sought and what the farm organisations deemed satisfactory. The Council’s conclusions can be accessed here.
In my view, the package is a measured response to the difficulties in some specific farm sectors and, indeed, the Commissioner has held his nerve in the face of demonstrations and protests.
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Hold your nerve, Commissioner!

An extraordinary meeting of the Agriculture Council will be held tomorrow Monday 7 September to discuss the difficult situation on agricultural markets. The Luxembourg Presidency has floated a number of ideas for discussion to address problems in the dairy, pork and fruit and vegetable markets, and the Commissioner is expected to table a package of measures.
Farmers will be out in force in Brussels to make their case for further assistance to the sector. In this post, I look at the options being discussed to address the dairy situation in particular. In a separate post, I examine the background to the milk market situation to explain why farmers will be protesting in Brussels tomorrow.
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OECD reports EU farm transfers at lowest level ever

The OECD produced the 2012 edition of its Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation report during the week. This is the publication that keeps tabs on the transfers to and from farmers and consumers as a result of government policy interventions. It also usually contains a chapter on a special theme, which this year is devoted to fostering innovation and productivity growth in agriculture.
General findings

The results are summarised in a series of indicators, of which the most well-known is the Producer Support Estimate (PSE) usually expressed in percentage terms. It measures the percentage of farm receipts in a country that is due to public policies.
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Lessons from the 2009 EU dairy market crisis

The EU dairy market is now recovering from the severe drop in milk prices in 2009. Perhaps the clearest sign of this recovery is the setting of export refunds on dairy products to zero since mid-November, as world market prices for dairy products have strengthened in recent months.

It is thus an opportune time to evaluate the EU’s response to the crisis, and to see what lessons might be drawn for how the Union can address similar problems in other farm sectors in the future. My view is that there is a lot to be learned from the dairy crisis, and that the outgoing Commissioner deserves credit for the way she handled it.

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Dairy sector measures do not set pulses racing

4000 dairy farmers with 900 tractors demonstrated outside an EU agricultural ministers meeting in Luxembourg yesterday calling for more aid for the sector. Inside, ministers faced a Franco-German memorandum backed by 20 member states with a series of demands for market distorting measures. In the event the concessions the Commission made are probably the least they could have got away with in the circumstances. Farmers’ organisation COPA immediately condemned them as insufficient.
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Fischer Boel's 'last feather' plucked

Earlier in the month I wrote that Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel was holding the line against protesting dairy farmers and a clutch of national agriculture ministers looking for more aid for their troubled farmers. It looks as though I spoke too soon. At this month’s farm council, Commissioner Fischer Boel found a further 280 million euro from the 2010 budget to give to dairy farmers, in addition to measures announced last month.
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Fischer Boel’s ‘last feather’ plucked

Earlier in the month I wrote that Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel was holding the line against protesting dairy farmers and a clutch of national agriculture ministers looking for more aid for their troubled farmers. It looks as though I spoke too soon. At this month’s farm council, Commissioner Fischer Boel found a further 280 million euro from the 2010 budget to give to dairy farmers, in addition to measures announced last month.
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