A grand reunion
Welcoming some familiar and new faces to Brussels is always exciting – and I was thrilled to host the group from the UK in person again, having had a few years of only online meetings. The agenda for our first in-person meeting for a few years was packed and there was lots to catch up on, ranging from dairy contracts, the market situation and development of domestic support schemes.
High level meetings
Coming to speak with the group first was International Dairy Federation’s Secretary General, Caroline Emond, who provided an overview of IDF’s work and priorities. Items of discussion ranged from food safety and standards to the importance of science and technical knowledge in the sector, alongside the sustainability story that the dairy sector has to tell.
Following this, the group were joined by European Dairy Association Secretary General, Alexander Anton, who shared the key areas of work for the organisation, and the key EU files for the sector under the Farm to Fork Strategy and beyond.
The group were updated on the global and EU market and trading situation, hearing from Fonterra and Eucolait. Discussions centred around sustainability and the challenging weather conditions across the globe, following a dry and hot summer in Europe. Concerns still remain with the strong El Nino effect expected over 2023/24.
View from the Member States
The group were kindly joined by DBV – German Farmers Association – where Florian Dalstein (head of the DBV Brussels office) provided a view from Germany. As well as outlining the domestic priorities of DBV, Florian reflected on the key files in the EU for the German agriculture sector, including animal welfare labelling and IED.
The group also heard from the Irish Farmers Association, who provided an overview of the ongoing discussions in Ireland on nitrates and water quality.
Shared challenges and opportunities
The meetings and discussions reiterated that despite no longer being in the EU, we maintain many of the same challenges in the dairy sector - whether that be the impact of unpredictable weather, high input costs or unstable markets. Meeting with stakeholders also reiterated that the industry maintains many of the same objectives.
Thank you to everyone who came to speak with us, and we look forward to our continued work in Brussels and beyond!