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Slovak dairy farmers protest low prices

FALLING prices for raw milk are endangering dairy farming and leading to the liquidation of Slovak dairy herds and subsequent dependency on imports of milk, said the chairman of the Slovak Union of Milk Producers (SZPM), Alexander Pastorek, the SITA newswire reported.

FALLING prices for raw milk are endangering dairy farming and leading to the liquidation of Slovak dairy herds and subsequent dependency on imports of milk, said the chairman of the Slovak Union of Milk Producers (SZPM), Alexander Pastorek, the SITA newswire reported.

SZPM decided to draw public attention to what it calls an emergency situation and has held protest gatherings to express farmers' anger at the attitude of milk processing companies in Slovakia as well as the European Union’s agriculture commissioner.

According to Pastorek, both the system of setting purchase prices and the actual price level are the most problematic issues in Slovakia. He said the worst problem is that milk processing firms are unwilling to negotiate purchase prices and that they practically dictate the price to their suppliers. He pointed out that purchase prices have not gone up in Slovakia even though prices in neighbouring countries have stopped falling and their prices still exceed those in Slovakia.

Slovak milk producers gathered in front of the Rajo Dairy in Bratislava on June 4 to express their dissatisfaction with the situation. The Slovak producers propose to temporarily introduce a minimum purchase price for raw milk in order to save the domestic milk market.

Vladimír Chovan, the chairman of the Slovak Agricultural and Food Chamber (SPPK), criticized the European commissioner for agriculture, Mariann Fisher-Boel, for her insensitive interference in the milk market and above all for increasing production quotas without a serious impact analysis and for her inflexible reactions in using and updating intervention mechanisms.

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