Dairy farmers breathe. If at the beginning of the year the sector was at the limit of desperation, with continuous demonstrations to warn that the industries were paying ridiculous prices for producing a liter of milk (around 30 cents) while production costs did not stop rising (and they continue to do so, especially feed, diesel and electricity), at least the increase in the lines of the pack of milk to the consumer is serving, in part, to have repercussions, finally, for the benefit of the milk producer of cattle, goats and sheep. And, in addition, now, since Monday, they have begun to receive direct aid from the Government for the damages of the War in Ukraine, which has multiplied their expenses for a particularly vulnerable sector in recent times.

So the owners of farms producing milk from cattle, sheep or goats have begun to receive direct aid of 204.95 euros per cow up to a maximum of 40 animals per beneficiary. If this figure is exceeded and there are up to 180 copies, 136.63 euros per cow will be obtained and 97.59 euros if the total number of copies exceeds 180. As for sheep’s milk production, 14.56 euros will be paid euros per sheep and 8.08 euros for goat milk production. The maximum amount per farm owner may not exceed 35,000 euros and the ministry estimates that 94% of the sector will receive aid, that is, 18,797 producers for a total of 159.3 million, within the specific direct aid package for the dairy sector included in the national plan of response to the economic and social consequences of the war in Ukraine.

The objective is to offset the increase in production costs of one of the most affected primary sector activities due to the increase in the price of electricity, animal feed and fuel, derived from the situation created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine .

In this first payment of 159.3 million euros out of the total of the 169 million established in Royal Decree Law 6/2022, 118.7 million have been paid to cow’s milk producers, 29.8 million to those of sheep milk and 10.8 million to goat milk producers.

Luis Planas has pointed out that the payment of this aid “is the fulfillment of a commitment approved by the Government and support for a sector that needs it due to its vulnerability and importance in the agri-food sector.” He has reiterated that this is an exceptional measure for an exceptional situation and that it was adopted urgently.

According to data from the department of Planas, the support program against the consequences of the war in Ukraine includes a set of measures for the agricultural and fishing sectors that represent more than 430 million euros in direct aid, in addition to others of a fiscal nature , labor and social, which are included in Royal Decree-Law 6/2022, of March 29, approved by the Council of Ministers.

Long before the aftermath of the invasion in Ukraine, beef farmers were already in a dire situation. In fact, according to official reports, some 6,000 producers had left the sector in the last five years and more than 5,000 dairy farms ended up closing in this period. Agaprol, the largest association of cow’s milk producers in Spain (800,000 tons), put the maximum number of farmers that delivered milk in 2018 at 14,439, while in 2021 the figure dropped to 12,770.

With this situation, dairy farmers took to the streets in most of the Spanish territory last winter, with important mobilizations, to demand a rise in prices from dairy industries. There were even withdrawals of dairy products from the shelves in some food chains in Galicia and Asturias.

At that time, farmers, on average, were paid about 32 cents per liter of milk when the cost of production is around 40 cents. The situation was stagnant in recent years: 0.322 cents per liter in 2018; 0.328 in 2019 and 0.332 again in 2020. In February of this year, on average, 0.338 were paid, according to official data from the Ministry of Agriculture, and with production costs such as electricity and diesel they were, and are, skyrocketing . Then joined the exorbitant cost of feed.

“The transport strike also hurt us a lot, we had a very bad time,” says Arturo Hernangómez, technical manager of Livestock for the Asaja organization, who values ​​government aid: “Any support is always welcome, and any help is little , taking into account the difficulties that the sector has gone through, although the rise in prices in recent months with the war in Ukraine has meant that milk prices have risen when it is sold to consumers and farmers now have more margin, at least to cover their costs, and the sector is recovering”. This expert assures that because finally, and thanks also to greater compliance with the Food Chain Law, industries are paying farmers more for their production. This, together with this direct aid approved by the Government, “which is like an associated payment of the CAP”, has helped “recover the dairy sector”.

According to Hernangómez, although it also depends on the geographical areas, on average each milk producer is currently receiving around 40 cents per liter which, at least, and “although production costs remain very high”, “is helping that many ranchers are raising their heads”, he describes.

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