“The cup is full”. About 15 milk producers from the Carhaix sector, armed with pots of chrysanthemums, were invited on Friday 4 November at 11:45 am to a meeting of the Sodiaal cooperative regional council at the Carhaix Chamber of Agriculture. From the beginning Yann Manac’h, president of the FDSEA milk section of Finistère, announced the color: the producers came to deliver the “Gravedigger Award for the economy of Finistère and Breton” to the managers of the cooperative, including Jean-Michel Le Meur, president of Sodiaal Bretagne Ouest.
“Tired of being used as an adjustment variable”
A few minutes before interrupting the meeting, these angry producers explained that “they were overwhelmed a few days ago when they learned of” a drop in the price of milk “when” they were hoping for a revaluation “(on 11 October they had blocked the entrance to the Sodiaal factory in Carhaix, to put pressure on the cooperative). “€ 425 per tonne in November instead of € 428 before, is between € 30 and € 50 less than other dairies. This is not a good message to send to a suffering profession, to young people who are settling in. No wonder some people say they are ready to stop milk “, protesters protested.
“The farmers say they are humiliated by this decline”, the president of the Fdsea milk section of Finistère launched a few minutes later to the administrators of Sodiaal, who accused “of not sufficiently defending the interests of the farmers”. Manufacturers claim they are tired of “serving as an adjustment variable”. They also denounce a “lack of transparency” in their cooperative and criticize its management choices. “We have been asking for a restructuring for ten years and it is not happening,” faces Yann Manac’h.
“We are not against our producers”
“Nobody at the table heard Jean-Michel Le Meur say he was satisfied with the price set for November”, defended the president of Sodiaal Bretagne Ouest. Jean-Michel Le Meur then explained that Sodiaal has “a banking relationship objective to respect, but that all the increases obtained by the various customers, including large retailers, are passed on to the price of milk”.
“We are not against our producers, assured the president of Sodiaal Bretagne Ouest, at the end of the meeting. We fully understand that the price of milk is insufficient given the inflation experienced on farms. But there is a market reality in front of our customers who do not accept the increases and who have been slow to deliver them to us. We have experienced three increases during the year but today, given the different inflation, we are struggling to keep up with a milk price that should be higher for farmers. We are aware of this, but it is the economic reality of today’s business. But in early January it will be very different.