Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė responded that preparations for such a crisis had to be made during profitable years and that she look for the €70 million in subventions being sought by Lithuanian dairy farmers from Brussels and the Lithuanian government.
The production of milk is increasing globally, but consumption is declining, leading to a glut of milk on world markets. Analysts believe the milk crisis in Europe could continue for up to four years.
“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.
“Last year, we were hit by losses of around €390 million but only received €72 million in compensation. The losses may be even higher this year, up to €400 million.”
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.
It is estimated that the total number of cows in Lithuania dropped by 1,000 in January alone and by 16,000 over the last year.
The farmers said they will give the government a month to come up with €70 million, after which they are threatening to bring their cows to the Seimas and Government buildings in protest.
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