Milk Reform On Menu

EU - Milk is the first food for humans and animals. Thus across cultures milk has come to symbolise life, fertility and health. Cleopatra famously bathed in asses' milk.
calendar icon 5 September 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

Milk - MEPs want more children drinking it at school

More prosaically, EU production of this basic foodstuff is regulated under the Common Agricultural Policy. Such regulation has to keep up with trends in production and consumption. On Tuesday the EP debates three reports related to milk reform and the European milk market by German Christian Democrat Elisabeth Jeggle.

Europe loves milk. An "average" European begins the day with bowl of cereal and milk, has yoghurt once a day, cheese after dinner and glass of warm milk before going to bed. The European dairy industry processes some 135 million tonnes of raw milk into a broad range of products each year: cheese, butter and other dairy products. Nearly 40% of EU milk is consumed as cheese.

The industry is the livelihood of 1.6 dairy million farmers in the 25 member European Union. With the addition of Romania and Bulgaria this figure is certain to rise. Since 1984 farmers in Europe have had to comply with milk quotas which limit the amount of production per county.

The Jeggle reports are based on proposals by the European Commission which aim to simplify the European milk market by allowing production of milk outside the three current categories (skimmed, semi-skimmed and full-fat milk). It also proposes common standards for the protein content in EU milk.

It is part of the Commission's "Milk Restructuring Programme", which aims to help European producers deal with growing "foreign" competition, modernise production methods, increase nutritional information and simplify the school milk distribution scheme.

This so-called “mini reform” of the European milk market is expected to lead to savings of almost €120 million between 2008 – 2013.

MEPs want more milk, fruit for school kids

"it is indispensable in view of increasing obesity and wrong eating habits of children these days"

German Christian Democrat Elisabeth Jeggle

Parliament's Agriculture Committee backed the Jeggle report in July and called for a single school milk rate to simplify the management of the scheme. They also want to level of aid increased as they believe more milk at school would promote nutrition.

In the report MEPs call on the Commission (which administers the scheme as part of the Common Agriculture Policy) to consider expanding it beyond milk to things like fruit for school children.

Speaking before the debate, Ms Jeggle said, "it is indispensable in view of increasing obesity and wrong eating habits of children these days".

Even should the reports be rejected which is unlikely, it seems that Mrs Jeggle will not be crying over spilt milk...


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