After three decades in existence, the milk quotas which farmers within the European Union had to adhere to have been scrapped.
Set up in 1984, the system has come to an ended to, hopefully, allow countries produce more milk to fulfil supply in fast-growing countries in Asia and Africa and compete on an even footing with international competitors.
The three biggest beneficiaries are expected to be those dairy farmers within the Netherlands, Germany and the Irish Republic.
However the news hasn’t been met with widespread support. Farmers based here in the United Kingdom, already struggling, have voiced concerns that they could see prices fall rather dramatically.
“With milk prices yet to show any strong signs of recovery, this could push farm gate milk prices down further in the European Union and stall any recovery in the dairy markets,” commented the National Farmers’ Union’s Rob Harrison.
One farmer, James Hole, was quick to suggest that in the long-term, this new dawn would, eventually, fail. “There will probably have to be another form of capping,” he said.
“I can’t see how they can just make it a free-for-all.”
Farmers in Belgium have even staged protests and brought a number of coloured model cows to Brussels to campaign against the move.
The EU’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, has admitted that the eradication of quotas will be both a challenge and an opportunity.
“An entire generation of fairy farmers will have to live under completely new circumstances and volatility will surely accompany them along the road,” the Commissioner confessed.
“But it certainly is an opportunity in terms of growth and jobs.”
These imposed limits have been gradually rising over the past couple of years in preparation of this day and the BBC’s Laurence Peter has indicated that there has been years of tough negotiations to get to this stage, and that safety nets have been put in place.
Originally, the quotas were adopted by the European Union after subsidised milk production superseded demand from consumers which led to the creation of so-called milk lakes.