Tomorrow will be a significant day for a number of small Croatian farmers. For more than 30 years the European Union milk quota has regulated how much milk member nations can produce. On 1 April that all ends, and whilst bigger producers such as the Irish and Germans will be celebrating, it will not be the same in Croatia…
The Irish, French and Germans, who have been preparing for this day for a number of years by pumping millions of euros into making their production more efficient to be competitive on the global market, will be happy to see the back of the EU milk quota, which was first introduced in 1984.
With the larger producers gearing themselves up for this day, many in Croatia fear that small farmers will not be able to compete with cheaper milk imports from abroad. Although Croatia import a large quantity of milk already, the removal of the quota could be the final nail in the coffin for the average Croatian farmer. In 2008 there were over 50,000 milk suppliers in Croatia, that has now dropped to around 10,000. 2013 was the first year there was a drop of millions of litres in milk production when 503 million litres of milk were produced in Croatia, a drop of close to 100 million litres from 2012.
“The end of the milk quota regime is both a challenge and an opportunity for the Union. It is a challenge because an entire generation of dairy farmers will have to live under completely new circumstances and volatility will surely accompany them along the road. But it certainly is an opportunity in terms of growth and jobs. Through increased focus on valued added products as well as on ingredients for “functional” food, the dairy sector has the potential of being an economic driver for the EU. More vulnerable areas where the end of the quota system may be regarded as a threat can benefit from the pallet of rural development measures following the subsidiarity principle,” EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan said ahead of tomorrow’s change.
Whilst tomorrow is April Fools Day, the removal of the quota will be no joke for those Croatian farmers already struggling to carve out a living. (photo / wikimedia)