During a meeting of the EU's Agriculture and Fisheries Council this week, Ministers took stock of the agricultural market situation, in particular the current difficulties in the milk and pig sectors.
Martijn van Dam, Dutch Minister for Agriculture and the President of the Council, said: “Several members expressed their concerns and made clear the market situation in dairy and pig meat sectors are worrying and need to improve urgently.
"We heard interesting views on how to move forward. Today's debate will be the base for the formal discussion on this very topic on the March council meeting.
"On that occasion we will assess the market measures currently in place, and decide what would be an appropriate approach.”
EU farmers' organisation Copa and Cogeca welcomed the fact that EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan and EU Farm Ministers acknowledged that the EU dairy and pigmeat markets are in a critical state.
Speaking after the meeting, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said: “I am glad that Mr Hogan and all Ministers agreed that the dairy and pork markets are in crisis.
"The situation at farm level is worsening, with farmers facing severe cash flow problems which are likely to continue not only this Spring but throughout the year.
"Without action, many producers will be forced out of business. And I hope member states will submit strong credible measures to improve the bad situation in their proposals to be made by February 25.
“In the dairy sector, with producer prices below production costs in many countries, we urge Member States to implement measures foreseen in the aid package especially not delay payment of the targeted aid and direct payments to partially alleviate producers cash flow problems.
"The EU milk intervention price, which does not take account of higher production costs, also needs to be reassessed to see how it can be made more efficient as it is creating downward pressure on prices. Exports must also be stepped up and new markets found.
"In the pigmeat sector, prices remain very low, and we urge the EU to intensify negotiations with Russia to re-open the Russian market – our number one export market for pigmeat - as soon as possible.
"We also need to develop a mechanism that encourages pork exports, like export credits, and find new market outlets for our produce. Finally, we support the measures proposed by the Spanish Minister today in the vegetables sub-sector. Crisis management measures need to be reviewed and withdrawal prices increased,” he concluded.