In Trentino Alto Adige 30 farms have closed their doors, and the last one counted 140 heads. The combination of increases in the prices of raw materials and energy and the reduction in milk production (in this case already at 15%) is blowing up the already fragile equilibrium of mountain livestock. The situation of the two autonomous provinces, in fact, is similar throughout the Alps, so much so that Giovanni Guarneri, coordinator of the dairy sector of Alleanza cooperatives, raises the alarm: “Unfortunately it is not an isolated case, the effects of the heavy economic crisis are already causing the slaughter of many head of cattle and the consequent closure of farms. Now support measures are needed which inevitably will have to consist of measures in favor of the liquidity of companies and useful contributions to support milk collection, an aspect that is as strategic as it is critical in mountain areas ».
What’s going on? «The milk collection truck runs through the whole Trentino area twice a day to collect milk from our breeder members. All this today is becoming unsustainable ”, explains Stefano Albasini, president of the Trentingrana Cooperative Consortium. Albasini also tells of the choice not to pulverize the milk to transform it into whey: «We cannot spend 7,500 euros for a product that we then sell for 5,000 euros. So now that we have zeroed the revenues from this processing, our breeders, unable to find alternative solutions, continue to eliminate the animals, to create liquidity ». Without forgetting that “the way of passing on the increase in costs to final consumers has so far been a boomerang: when we tried to raise the price of butter, sales immediately dropped by 30%”.
It is no better in the Belluno area: “The cooperatives operating in the mountains are doing their best to pay their members for milk at a time when the costs of diesel, packaging and paper are out of control”, say the managers of the Lattebusche cooperative which collects 90% of the milk of that province and which has already cut production by 6%. Even the Latteria Valtellina in Lombardy is struggling with a decline in production due to a constant reduction in the number of animals raised: «If there are no more animals in the stable, they certainly won’t come back. When a mountain farm closes, it is impossible for it to reopen. Without companies, however, the entire coverage of the territory is lacking ».
In the long term, the forecasts are anything but positive, as explained by the managers of the Crodo dairy, 20 farmer members operating in Val D’Ossola (Verbania): “The social aspect of safeguarding the territory should be recognized through interventions that allow survival of companies that also have an essential social value ».