V Environmental and Policy Issues

The Milk and Dairy Sector in the European Union: Environmental and Policy Issues

Caterina De Lucia, Pasquale Pazienza and Vincenzo Vecchione

Department of Economics, University of Foggia, Italy


The European milk production sector is among the most important worldwide. It is broadly known how it has been operating within a technical framework of milk quotas up to now. Quotas were introduced in 1984 to avoid surpluses in milk production— which negatively affected the price paid to first producers—and achieve, as a result, a market equilibrium in the sector. This quota system ended on March 31, 2015, after almost 30 years of restrictions on milk production, aimed at regulating the sectoral market dynamic. This reorganization has already raised many questions among dairy producers. Which scenario will result from the end of financial aids, how to proceed with the reorganization of the supply chain, and how to deal with the expected price volatility of the productions derived from milk are just some of the main concerns expressed by the sectoral stakeholders.

In addition to these aspects, the environmental implications of dairy production also represent one of the main issues characterizing the reflection on the management of this specific sector. This is particularly true since the late 1980s, when, as a result of the debate on sustainable development, a new environmental sensitivity began to change consumers' preferences and characterize the markets features differently from before. As a consequence, the focus on guaranteeing higher levels of environmental quality has become prominent.

Today, speaking about the environmental quality of the dairy products (or the relationship between dairy production and the environment) means considering a broad range of impacts released in the atmosphere, soil, and water, as well as effects on landscape and biodiversity.

With the aim of developing an analysis of the main features characterizing the sector under consideration and discussing the environmental aspects of the dairy production together with the relevant policy implications, the remaining sections of this chapter are organized as follows: The following section deals with main statistics of milk sector and milk products in the EU-28 area. The third section discusses main environmental implications of dairy production. The final section highlights policy aspects associated with the environmental considerations characterizing the dairy production. The chapter ends with concluding remarks.

Advances in Dairy Products, First Edition.

Edited by Francesco Conto, Matteo A. Del Nobile, Michele Faccia, Angelo V. Zambrini, and Amalia Conte. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published 2018 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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