Should Poland, given the mentioned competitive advantages, not be the last country to worry about the abolition of the quota system within Europe?
“Poland has a lot of potential for further expansion of its milk production. There are more and more companies that have between 50 and 150 dairy cows, in my opinion, from an
economic perspective an optimum size. In combination with rising global demand for food this gives me much hope. But let me explain this one more time. Because Europe is not
prepared to act in times of crisis, we do have reason for
In the last ten years more than €1 billion has been invested in the Polish dairy sector through agricultural and rural development programmes. Is this likely to continue for the next five years?
“I think that there has been even more money invested. From this amount, half of it came from Brussels. In addition to this, both the Polish government and the dairy sector contributed 25% of the total amount. This will not continue on this scale, however. Within the new rural development policy we want to focus more on the small and medium sized farms.”
Poland has more than 134,500 commercial dairy farms. How many of these companies will still be around in 2020?
“This number will not decrease much further. I expect that the number of cows per farm will increase. Remember that we still had 700,000 dairy farmers ten years ago. Under the new CAP from the 1st January we‘d like to grant a subsidy for the first
30 cows on each farm. The subsidy of €70 per cow applies to companies with at least three dairy cows.”
There seems to be severe tensions between the large and small dairy farms in Poland. For example, in the purchase
of land, voting rights within the cooperative and also the distribution of subsidies.
“These tensions can be found in every European country. Europe did not really reform the new CAP despite the fact that in 2008 we stated clear goals. The fight for money and the distribution of available subsidies proved ultimately to be more important than achieving goals.
With the system of direct payments (the first pillar), everything remains the same. More money to the second pillar, rural development, would really change the agriculture sector. It would be a huge boost for the sector, but for now, neither France, Germany, nor the Netherlands, will let this big change happen. They prefer political peace.
It is true that small farmers refuse to sell their land, simply because they then will miss their payment per hectare. Actually, direct payments (first pillar) should not exceed 20-30% of the agricultural funds distributed. The rest of the funds should be used for the second pillar, for rural development. Farmers know themselves where investments are needed. Moreover, if they have to contribute 30, 50 or sometimes 70% of the investment, they will look closer to the returns on the investment.”
Why does the Polish government spend agricultural funds on companies with only a few cows?
“We must take into account the structure of Polish agriculture, where 50% of the farmers do not own more than five acres of land. I can’t support only 10% of the Polish dairy farmers and leave the rest to the Social Services. In my opinion also dairy farms with just three, five or 15 cows can produce dairy products to earn money.”
Can these companies still become successful commercial companies?
“That is the goal, but we need time to fulfil this. Luckily I’m still young and I have a lots of time.”
Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki (56), member of Peasant Party PSL, succeeded Stanislaw Kalemba in early March, 2014. His fellow party member was forced to resign because of
criticism on his approach to African Swine fever. Sawicki was Minister of Agriculture from November 2007 to July 2012. For years he was a dairy farmer himself. When he retired in 1998, he had 16 cows and was the largest dairy farmer in the village.