International Fair Milk Conference: From Europe to Africa
The 6th International Fair Trade Milk Conference, held in Libramont on Saturday 12 October, had a very special dimension this time: for the first time, breeders from Africa and Europe came together to celebrate the success of their milk projects. They also presented Golden Faironika awards to politicians, journalists and colleagues in recognition of their exceptional commitment to justice.
The event was attended by Fairebel – Fairtrade milk that has been making history for ten years with fair prices for Belgian dairy farmers; Fairefaso milk, which has enabled producers from Burkina Faso to market their own brand; but also fair trade milk producers from Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland, as well as Mali, Niger, Senegal and Chad, who have succeeded in establishing strong solidarity with consumers, but also among themselves, in recent years.
All this is part of the history of Fair Trade milk, which began in Austria in 2006.
Erwin Schöpges, chairman of the EMB and head of the Belgian Fair Milk Project, which organised this year’s international conference, is deeply convinced of both the idea and its practical implementation. “If you are a dairy farmer and you see that your industry and your colleagues are under increasing pressure, that their economic survival is threatened, then you want and have to do something together. Ten years ago we decided to participate in the EMB project for fair milk in Belgium. It was a good decision. “This decision is bearing fruit and continues to grow. “We want a relationship based on fairness, in Europe but also outside Europe, and that is why we have entered into a partnership with Fairtrade. For example, in the future our chocolate milk will contain Fairtrade cocoa. »
A golden companion
During the award ceremony, which took place in the framework of the Fair Trade Milk Conference, the Golden Faironika Awards were presented to citizens and institutions that have distinguished themselves through fair and sustainable behaviour.
The newspaper Politico received one of these trophies for the quality of its research and articles. Maria Noichl, Member of the European Parliament, received the sympathetic golden cow for her commitment to a crisis-proof milk market. Swiss dairy farmer Werner Locher was awarded the prize by his colleagues for his tireless political work and his strong commitment to fair and rewarding milk prices. The former Federal Minister of Agriculture, Willy Borsus, who ensured that Belgian milk producers receive a fair price and fair compensation through their membership of Faircoop, was also honoured. The Faironika and Or was also awarded to Herman Vissers from Belgium and Adama Ibrahim Diallo from Burkina Faso, two particularly committed milk producers. Luxlait Dairy received the award as a reliable partner of the Belgian fair trade milk cooperative Faircoop. Finally, a Golden Faironika was awarded to the Agricall organisation, which has distinguished itself for years through its support of farmers and their families.
Sieta van Keimpema, vice-president of the EMB, sees the fair milk projects, and thus the cooperation between milk producers in different countries and continents, as a very important positive message. “It is not about being against each other, but about being together for something. This is what milk producers have been doing in recent years in the context of fair milk, but also in their political work together and with consumers. Working together for worthwhile prices, for a dignified life for hardworking dairy farmers, has brought us all up. »