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Protesting farmers blockade more than 80 dairies

Video by FRANCE 3 , Luke SHRAGO , Sarah DRURY

Latest update : 2009-05-26

As dairy producers from 10 European countries gathered in Brussels Monday in protest at low wholesale milk prices, farmers in France blockaded 81 dairies across the country.

AFP - Protesting French farmers blockaded 81 dairies around the country on Monday as producers from 10 European countries demonstrated in Brussels against low wholesale milk prices, officials said.


According to the FNSEA union, some 12,000 dairy farmers were involved in the action, which halted work at around 81 sites across France. "That's 4,000 more protesters than last week," a labour spokesman said.


France has around 150,000 dairy farmers and more than 3,000 dairies.


"Nothing is going in and nothing's coming out," declared Joel Limouzin, a farmers' leader in the Loire Valley.


Some 900 farmers, according to police, marched in the streets of Brussels ahead of a meeting by European Union agriculture ministers to discuss the crisis in the country.


Farmers accuse retailers of exploitation, complaining that the price they are paid for milk by wholesalers has fallen dramatically in recent months, while the cost to consumers in supermarkers has remained stable.


French farmers are paid 21 euro cents per litre of milk, 30 percent less than in April 2008, according to the national federation of dairy producers FNPL. Consumers pay around a euro per litre.


The French government has appointed mediators to attempt to broker a deal between farmers and milk buyers, but unions have vowed to step up protests across the continent.

Date created : 2009-05-25