In the last 20 years, Switzerland has lost more than half of its milk producers. That is over 20,000 farms that have had to switch over as a result of the unsustainable price policy. Recently the Federal Council even had to approve several butter imports to avoid bottlenecks. Anne Chenevard is fighting against this absurd situation as president of Faireswiss. The milk cooperative has grown steadily in recent years and is now represented with its fair milk at over 400 locations. Instead of just under 55 centimes, which by far does not cover the production costs, the farmers receive one franc per litre of “white gold”. Mucca.ch spoke to project manager Berthe Darras about the current situation of dairy farmers and the goals of Faireswiss.

What is Faireswiss?

The starting signal was given on 23 September 2019, the day on which 14 milk producers, mainly from the French-speaking cantons, launched Faireswiss milk. This project consists of ten years of work. Since the milk strike in 2009, the farmers’ organisation Uniterre has been fighting to ensure that milk producers receive one franc per litre to cover production costs. Now this fight has been rewarded! Sales of fair trade milk have exceeded all our expectations. Since January 2020, 20 new members have already joined the cooperative. We currently have partners in Basel, Zurich, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Ticino, Bern, etc. And new ones will join in 2021.

Where can you find Faireswiss products?

In all Manor shops in Switzerland, but also in Spar shops. You can also find us in local food shops, cafés and restaurants. In total, there are more than 400 points of sale throughout Switzerland. The range consists of UHT whole milk and semi-skimmed milk, which are processed by Cremo. There are also six soft cheeses from the Grand Pré cheese dairy in Moudon, coffee cream (initially for restaurants) and soon a fondue made from 50% Gruyère AOP and 50% Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP.

Why Faireswiss was founded?

Swiss milk production is in danger! We have lost another 520 milk producers in 2019. We are about to fall below the 19,000 mark. 20 years ago there were over 40,000 milk producers in Switzerland: more than 50% have stopped. Milk production for 2019 is historically low. Swiss butter stocks are at a record low. As a result, the Federal Council has approved several butter imports to avoid bottlenecks.

There is enough milk, but the problem is processing. Instead of using it to produce Swiss butter, semi-hard cheese is produced for foreign countries. This is a first step towards facilitating imports of dairy products, which are currently subject to high taxes – to protect domestic milk producers. But if these taxes continue to fall, the Swiss dairy industry is guaranteed to die. And then, for better or worse, we will have to drink milk from foreign factory farms in the future. And that in a country like Switzerland.

How could it have come to this?

Quite simply: on average, a farmer receives 50 to 55 centimes per litre of industrial milk. But at least 1 franc would be needed to cover production costs. That is why we are counting on you as consumers! By buying fair milk, support us in ensuring that there will still be milk production in Switzerland tomorrow!  

You can find further information about Faireswiss.ch directly on our homepage.  

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