Italian farmers fear end of EU milk quotas

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Farmers rallied in Rome on Tuesday to protest against a land tax. Photo: Anna Pujol-Mazzini.
13:24 CEST+02:00
Some Italian farmers fear the removal of EU milk quotas could price them out of the market.

The controversial milk quota regime, introduced in 1984 to tackle over-production, came to an end across all 28 EU member states on Tuesday.

As farmers rallied in Rome on Tuesday to protest against a land tax in Italy, some spoke of the impact the removal of the quota will have on milk producers. 

While those in northern Europe have hailed the move, as it will allow them to quench the first for milk in emerging markets, producers in Italy fear it could make them less competitive.

“It is a problem because it reduces Italy’s ability to compete with countries like Germany, or the Netherlands, which manage to produce milk at much lower prices,” Pasquale Bruno, a producer from the Puglia region in southern Italy, told The Local.

A report published on Tuesday by Coldiretti, the farmers’ organisation, said that since the milk quotas were introduced, four out of five dairy farms in Italy have disappeared.

But the farmers gathered outside the Ministry of Agriculture were mostly protesting against the "unfair" introduction of a land tax in Italy that forms part of the IMU, or unified municipal tax, which came into force in 2012. The tax for 2014 is due to be paid today.

“We need less taxes and more help for the agricultural sector," Carinda Marchetti, who helped to organize the protest in behalf of the union, Agrinsieme, told The Local. 

"We need to give the young generation space to develop,” she added.

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Danielle Italo, another farmer, said that taxing land goes against the sector's development.

"In some areas, the land will have to be abandoned."

By Anna Pujol-Mazzini

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