On 24 June 2013, the European Commission held a full-day conference on “The EU Dairy Sector: Developing Beyond 2015”, in the context of the abolition of the milk quotas that year. 20 CEJA young farmers attended the conference from across the European Union (EU) in order to contribute to the important discussion on the future of the sector, particularly in the context of competitiveness on the international market.

vaches The conference, set on a backdrop of concerns that the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will not be able to address issues related to the end of the milk quotas in 2015, focused on new ideas for additional policy tools to keep the future of the EU dairy sector sustainable. The conference was invite-only, and participants included a number of European producers as well as Ministers and senior ministry officials; Members of the European Parliament; and representatives from national permanent representations, industry, consumers and environmental groups. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, opened the conference with a speech focusing on the reasoning behind the conference and the importance of input from participants, stating that: “Things are now in your hands. I encourage you to come forward with analyses, questions and ideas which are pragmatic and realistic given the diversity of the European dairy sector.”

This was followed by detailed presentations from experts, presenting market data and projections for the next years of European dairy production, particularly in terms of the international market context. Participants were then divided into workshops to “brainstorm” suggestions to ensure territorial sustainability of the sector, to combat market volatility and to rebalance the food supply chain. During the concluding plenary session, CEJA Vice-President Paola Del Castillo spoke on the subject of attracting young farmers to the dairy sector, highlighting the fact that: “The future of the sector depends on young people; so the sector needs profitability, market transparency and improved access in order to attract young farmers.” Speaking after the conference, CEJA President Mr Bartolini added: “CEJA is committed to working with these ideas in order to develop concrete suggestions for the future to submit to the European Commission, in an attempt to further the work which has begun today. The dairy sector presents important opportunities for young farmers entering agriculture, and we must ensure that it has the future prospects to accommodate them.”

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