“For a while now, milk purchasing prices have not covered expenditures. Livestock are intensively emigrating from Lithuania – they are being bought by Polish farmers,” said Andriejus Stančikas, chairman of the Lithuanian Chamber of Agriculture (ŽŪR).
In the last week of April, the average price of a 2.5% fat litre of milk in a plastic bag was 66 Euro cents, according to produktukainos.lt, though prices could reach as low as 59 Euro cents in places. In the mean time, a litre of uncarbonated mineral water could cost 65 Euro cents or even more than a Euro.
“The prime minister has agreed with processors that prices won’t fall but they are indeed falling. For example, a farmer today who has two cows, after milking two buckets of milk and selling them, can buy himself a cup of coffee at a gas station,” said Stančikas. “Here’s a joke – you need no less than 5 litres of water to produce one litre of milk, and that water can be more expensive than milk, and that’s not to mention feed and everything else.”
Other countries are also suffering from the global milk crisis and are looking for different ways to solve it. Jekaterina Rojaka, a senior economist at DNB Bank, said “Things could improve for Lithuania if it reoriented itself towards larger forms of agriculture with more added value. Towards products, not just the creation of resources. In this aspect, we have a lot of potential.”
She also said that Poland had been in a tougher situation than Lithuania several years ago. “That’s a large country whose production capabilities and market are larger. Because there are many consumers, both smaller ecological farms and industrial ones can find them. As for us, we can’t drink more than we can, though our dairy product consumption statistics are increasing,” she said.
Stančikas did not agree, however, that creating larger dairy farm was the solution; “In many countries, dairy farms aren’t that large, yet they get along fine.”
Both Stančikas and Rojaka agreed that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that 2017 should see the end of the milk crisis. “We see that the prices of primary resources are rising,” said Rojaka. “This lets us hope that we are gradully moving out of the death zone.”