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Desperate European farmers dump milk in massive protest

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-20

European dairy farmers poured three million litres of milk into a field in a massive protest in Belgium on Wednesday in a bid to highlight their desperation over dairy prices that have collapsed due to low demand caused by the economic crisis.

AFP - European dairy farmers poured three million litres (800,000 gallons) of milk into a Belgian field on Wednesday in a bid to highlight their desperation over falling prices.

The stunt, in southern Wallonia region, came as a campaign group, Via Campesina, said at least three milk farmers have committed suicide in France over the past week while more than 40,000 producers have stopped supplying milk.

"Desperation is pushing more and more producers to join the movement,"  European Milk Board chief Romuald Schaber told a press conference, adding that politicians "must act at once" to address the plight of 100,000 farmers.

Dairy product prices have collapsed due to low demand caused by the financial and economic crisis. Since 2007, milk prices have in some countries more than halved, according to Schaber, whose organisation represents about a third of European milk producers.

Demonstrations have been held in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.

The action comes after European Union farm ministers could not agree an aid package for the sector during a Brussels meeting on September 7.

In November, EU agriculture ministers agreed to lift milk production quotas by one percent per year before scrapping them for 2014-2015.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has agreed to introduce limited aid but has refused to go back on its decision to scrap the quota system.
 

Date created : 2009-09-17