The EC decided to monitor changes in Lithuania’s dairy market and make a decision on supporting it in June. Baltraitienė, however, hopes for a decision on the support as early as April, because the country currently heading the EC – the Netherlands – expressed its belief that it could include the request innto next month’s commission meeting.
Lithuanian dairy producers have been hit by significant losses due to a global milk glut as milk production increases and consumption declines.
In the end of February, dairy producers threatened to strike and called for the minister of agriculture’s resignation over their woes. “If we are members of the EU, why do we get the lowest price and the smallest payments? They must tell them [the EU] that Lithuanian farmers and producers need to make a living,” said Jonas Vilionis, the chairman of the Dairy Producers Association.
Milk producers are demanding the government compensate them to the tune of €70 million for losses last year. They say many farms are facing bankruptcy.
However, the Agriculture Minister shifted some of the blame to the EU, saying: “No one did anything to set up a crisis fund, to develop cooperation. Now, when crisis struck, we can only use short-term measures,” said Baltraitienė. She has also blamed increased production after the lifting of milk quotas in the EU as a key driver of the collapse in milk prices.
Baltraitienė has said that if the EC were to provide the requested sum, the Lithuanian government would match it, bringing the total dairy support package to €150 million.
In 2015, the Lithuanian dairy sector received a total of €72 million in support from the Lithuanian government and the European Union.