It’s been a tough year for dairy lovers across the world, with the European Dairy Farmers’ Union (EDF) urging the European Union to ban the import of cows, calves and dairy products in response to rising costs and high tariffs.
But it looks like dairy lovers in Spain are also facing more threats to their livelihoods than the EU ban, with Spanish dairy producers facing the prospect of having to switch from European production to their own.
Dairy lovers in the northern part of the country have been facing a constant barrage of tariffs from the EU since 2017, and the new rules will put the entire region at risk of losing access to EU production, as well as the products it needs to keep afloat.
In an article for El País, journalist Cristóbal Sánchez explained that Spain’s dairy industry relies heavily on imports from the UK and the United States, and that the current tariffs would be devastating for farmers in the region.
It would be like the world is going to the cleaners because we are importing our products from other countries and they are not going to be allowed to sell to us, he said.
There is no guarantee that these products will be allowed in Spain, which would be an extremely significant economic and social blow for the country, he added.
Spain is currently the EU’s fifth-largest exporter of dairy products, with nearly 60 percent of its total imports coming from the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
It also has a huge surplus of milk, with Spain’s export quota at 5.7 million tonnes.
But in a recent ruling, the European Commission rejected Spain’s application to rejoin the bloc after concluding that it had failed to prove that its dairy sector could meet EU quotas for milk and other products.
According to the EU, the decision was based on the EU Member State’s inability to meet its own dairy sector quota, which had been set at 5 million tonnes per year.
In order to get back into the EU market, Spain would need to reduce its dairy imports from around 40 million tonnes to less than 3 million tonnes, according to the ruling.
Sánchelz noted that the ruling would be a blow to Spain’s agriculture sector, which relies on imports to make up for the shortage of milk and butter produced in the country.
“If we don’t get our quotas back, we will be forced to go to other countries for milk,” he said, adding that the decision would affect the entire dairy industry in the north of Spain.
The ruling has caused anxiety for Spanish dairy farmers, as the dairy industry has been at the centre of several recent protests.
In October, more than 100 farmers protested against the import ban.
In December, a similar protest against the EU rules broke out at a factory owned by one of the biggest Spanish producers, Agua Fria.
In that case, protesters were protesting against the price of milk imported from Britain and the UK being increased by 1,000 percent, which affected the cost of milk for the farmers.
Spain’s dairy sector is estimated to have a turnover of over $60 billion and employs some 4,500 people.