Dairy is a change maker

A quick trip to Madrid last week yielded similar weather patterns to the UK, but with a little more warmth. Still, the Christmas lights on Gran Via went up in a fabulous fashion, and the European Dairy Association had plenty to say at its annual convention in the city. In times of increasing energy and food prices and European war, dairy continues to be needed and helpful.

Giuseppi Ambrosi, president of the EDA, said, in the wake of the pandemic, European dairy has been dealing with the Ukraine war, climate change and their impacts on inputs for the producer, and prices for the consumer – like many others in the world. “Turbulent time are our daily dairy business,” he stated.

EDA President Ambrosi. Image: EDA

That being said, he noted that it is not nice to be getting attention for dairy policies only when there are crises such as astronomic increases in food prices. The European Dairy Association has been the voice of reason in the dairy policy debate on legislation in the EU, working on avoiding policies that resist an ideological approach to farming and agriculture. For example, it helped alert the EU that its Farm to Fork Strategy would lead to a 10 per cent drop in agricultural output and a drop in farmer income, which is not what one wants when consumer prices are up. “The economics of stable and affordable food supply have finally gained momentum,” he added.

He also said that not making the farmer a villain in the climate change scenario is key. “We all want to reach climate neutrality in 2050 and the one way is dialogue and supporting those who can make a change. It’s not about punishing the farmer, it’s all about supporting and incentivising them. In 2023, poor legislation will not be a reality.”

As we’ve seen lately, short-term thinking on the part of politicians just leads to rubbish legislation, and this is true in dairy as well as anywhere else. As Ignacio Elola, the president of the Spanish dairy association Fenil reminded the audience, there are now eight billion people to feed globally and “dairy will be a key fixture in supplying this.” He called on the Spanish government to delay a plastics tax, as it will put the nation’s producers at a disadvantage to other European processors. “We are committed to Europe, but we need a regulatory approach that addresses the uncertainties.”

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