Around 100 milk and meat producers held a protest between Ovar and Estarreja on Tuesday (August 23) in a desperate bid to convince the government to restore milk quotas and put an end to the plummeting prices that are threatening Portugal’s milk industry.
Dairy farmer António Valente put the issue into perspective: “This month we received 25 cents per litre of milk. Thirty years ago we would be paid 30 cents per litre. And 30 years ago, a kilo of livestock feed cost 22 cents, while today it is 41 cents. It is very hard for us to survive,” he told Lusa news agency.
Valente said that if the situation does not improve soon, his business will be forced to close. He added that many farmers have already done so and this will only continue if nothing is done.
Another dairy farmer Maria Oliveira agreed: “We don’t even make enough money to pay for our expenses. It is miserable and only getting worse.”
João Dinis from the national confederation of agriculture (CAN) also called on President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to intervene and stop the “dictatorship of hypermarkets”, which are imposing “staggeringly low prices on national producers”.
A series of measures to address this issue have been announced by the government, such as making available over €7 million to distribute among the country’s dairy farmers at €45 per cow.
Meantime, Portugal’s Agriculture Minister Capoulas Santos has agreed that the European Union should reintroduce the milk quotas it banned last year, saying there has to be tighter control of production in order to keep prices from dropping too low.