Representatives of dairy farmers and the Lactalis group met in Paris on Thursday to continue their discussions in an attempt to overcome the current milk crisis. The Laval plant of the dairy giant has been blocked for four days. Lactalis is accused of buying milk from producers at too low a price.
The meeting, which began in the early afternoon at the Maison du Lait in Paris, extended into the evening. “Each party made not to the other. They had set a goal to have a result tonight, it is not excluded. We continue as long as hope is alive “ , said the mediator of agricultural trade relations, Francis Amand. But no agreement reached.
The main objective is to move forward on the issue of milk purchase price, since according to the National Milk Producers Federation (NPFL), the global giant Lactalis is the company that pays its worst breeders, compared competing dairies.
A 256.90 euros per tonne bought in July, Lactalis is well behind the group and the Laïta Silav company (290 euros per ton) or dairy Holy Father, a subsidiary of Intermarché, which pays farmers 300 euros 1 000 liters.
“The key question out of conflict is the question of price” , according to Christiane Lambert, Vice President of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA).
Among producer organizations, “we want visibility to the end of the year and a written commitment on a new milk pricing method” , added Florent Renaudier, a milk producer in Mayenne and Board Member administration of the NPFL, dairy branch of the FNSEA, present at the meeting. The spokesman for Lactalis, Nalet Michel, for his part, called for calm, without specifying the position taken by the group.
The FNSEA expected to prolong the headquarters plant in Laval Lactalis, which began Monday, at least until Friday, depending on the outcome of the meeting.
In the evening, around 300 tractors were massed in front of the entrance. “I came to pressure Lactalis, impress, show that we are there. We are prepared to stay however long it takes “ , explained Alain, a farmer came with his tractor.
About 300 protesters gathered outside the gates of the factory, where banners were hung.“President Camembert runny producers” , could be read there.
“We do not want to be assisted by the state, we want to earn a decent wage with the correct milk price” , says Sylvie, a farmer of the Sarthe in contract with Bel Group (Laughing Cow), came manifest solidarity. “It will let us pennies for social peace, but it will not solve the problem,”predicts another farmer, also in contract with Bel.
What will happen will happen if farmers get nothing? “One case, we have nothing to lose, he replies. If it’s not suicide, it’s breaking. “
In parallel, thirty farmers entered the Leclerc hypermarket in Laval before emptying Lactalis products from the shelves.
The protesters vowed not lift the blockade that if they got the “fair price” for their milk. But the Paris meeting may not be enough to overcome all differences.
Last summer, the negotiations were followed for weeks at the Ministry of Agriculture before reaching agreement on the price of meat and milk. It has never been applied.
One producer in five in France provide Lactalis, which works for 20% of the French collection, or 5 billion litres of milk collected from a total of 25 billion produced annually in France.
Besides well-known brands in France (Lactel, Bridel, President, Lanquetot, Roquefort Société …), Lactalis has become a global giant by absorbing many groups abroad. It is especially present in Italy since 2011 and its hostile takeover of Parmalat, Turkey and India.