Portugal’s “food sovereignty at stake”

Milk producers warn urgent measures needed

Portugal’s milk producers have warned the country’s “food sovereignty and security is at stake”. 

The embattled sector is calling for urgent measures to update the price paid to dairy farmers whose incomes this year have been decimated.

“We cannot anticipate how much it will cost us to produce each litre of milk in the coming months. Today we produce enough milk to feed Portugal, but if we don’t receive enough to feed our animals, we cannot guarantee that we will continue to supply our country as we have until now”, says Aprolep, the Association of Milk Producers of Portugal.

“If there is no short-term response in updating the price of milk to producers, they will demonstrate successively at the doors of the main industries and distribution chains until prices are updated, to allow the survival of the sector and ensure the sovereignty and food security of Portugal,” the association warns in a statement.

“The economic situation of milk producers has worsened significantly in the first months of 2022, with the increase in the cost of feed, energy and fertilisers completely absorbing the increase in the price of milk to the producer recorded in January.”

“As a result of the war in Ukraine, the price of agricultural diesel has skyrocketed to unprecedented heights, electricity is rising equally, doubts have arisen about the availability of cereals for feed and all production factors, such as fertilisers, will reach levels that we cannot calculate“.

In this context, and “as further increases in the costs of animal feed and field cultivation are foreseeable”, Aprolep “challenges cooperatives, associations, confederations, the Government, industry and distribution to hold an emergency meeting to analyse the situation and find an immediate way of updating the price of milk whenever costs increase”.

“We propose to study a mechanism for indexing the price of milk to production costs and to the European milk and dairy products market,” says the statement.

In parallel, the association is calling on the government – and the European Union – to “exceptionally suspend CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] rules that prevent cultivation on all available agricultural land”.

It is allso advocating the review of ordinance 79/2022, “which poses difficulties for the agricultural utilisation of livestock effluents, which is fundamental for reducing the use of chemical fertilizers, which will be much more expensive if they are available on the market”.

Welcoming the increase in the price of milk by four cents per litre announced by the Jerónimo Martins group to Pingo Doce brand producers, as of March 16, Aprolep “challenges remaining buyers to increase the price by an equivalent or higher amount for milk delivered as of March 1, inclusive”.

The association is now requesting audiences with the President of the Republic, with the Minister of Agriculture and with the future Parliamentary Commission of Agriculture, “as soon as the new parliament takes office”.

Aprolep also intends to request meetings with the associations representing the industry and distribution and establish contacts with other agricultural organisations and main milk buyers in Portugal.

The statement stresses that “Portuguese milk producers, united with all European colleagues through the ‘European Milk Board’, express their solidarity with farmers, milk producers and all Ukrainians, to all those suffering from the war, call for an urgent peace process and commit to continue working to feed the entire European population and collaborate in welcoming, feeding and offering work to Ukrainian refugees, as possible and necessary”.

Source: Lusa