Influence of EU Funds on development of the Polish Dairy, Andrzej Babuchowski Counsellor Minister, Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland to the European Union
Milk processing sector is one of the most important areas of agri-food processing in Poland, due to production scale and degree of interdependence with primary agricultural production. Therefore, before and after Polish accession to the European Union, it was supported by different domestic and EU programmes. Since 2002, in Poland there have been three assistance programmes focused on agricultural products processing, including milk. Namely:
- Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD) in 2002-2004
- Sectoral Operational Programme (SOP) in 2005-200
- Rural Development Programme (RDP) in 2007-2013 The actual implementation period was extended by two years, due to the operation rules.
SAPARD action no. 1 – „Improvement of processing and marketing of agricultural and fishery products” related to the food industry and intended to improve safety and quality of produced food. At that time, Poland had 405 dairy plants of which only 55 met the EU standards. As a result of investments carried out under the SAPARD Programme, the dairy sector to a large extent has been prepared for Polish accession to the EU. Most of the plants acquired the status enabling them to produce on the EU market. However, during the entire Programme, not all sector’s needs have been fulfilled. therefore, another assistance program, Sectoral Operational Programme (SOP) „Restructuring and modernization of food sector and rural development” under Measure 1.5. „Improvement of processing and marketing of agricultural products,” has been intended to continue adjustment of the sector to the EU conditions. This Programme, based on adjustment of dairy sector to the EU requirements, less than SAPARD Programme, but it met the need to develop production of Line series of products, especially highly processed products, meeting increasing demand of consumers, as well as the need to invest in new innovative technologies and marketing activities, including creation of branded products. In 2007‒2013, Rural Development Programme financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development was implemented. In this program, under Axis 1 „Improving the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector” there was „Increasing the added value to primary agricultural and forestry production” measure to promote investments in food industry, including the dairy sector. Emphasis has been put on actions related to modernization of industrial plants. Support instruments were aimed at further competitiveness improvement of food industry, in particular with regard to micro and small enterprises. However, unlike SAPARD Programme, big plants were excluded. Investments made by dairy plants have contributed to competitiveness growth of The Polish dairy sector through concentration of production – number of plants dropped from 405 to 181, quality improvement and standardization in dairy production. In this period, consumption of dairy products per person in all ranges remained more or less at the same level, and amount of purchased milk increased from 7586 to 10259 million l, therefore almost 20% of dairy production had to be exported. At the same time, such a big increase in milk production has been achieved by slight decline in cow numbers, from 2,8 to 2,4 million head and by big increase in their milk yield, from 3982 to 5520 l/year.