More than 3,500 farmers staged a two-day protest at the European Parliament in Brussels in an effort to call attention to low milk prices - which they claim do not cover the cost of production.
Between 3,500 and 4,000 European dairy farmers with around 1,000 tractors descended on the Belgian capital on Monday and today.
European Parliament buildings were sprayed with milk using a fire hose in a symbolic response to claims that over-production of milk has set the European market “on fire.” Belgian farmers also set fire to a trailer in protest.
The European Milk Board (EMB), which organised the protests, hopes that the disruptions will press European Union (EU) decision-makers to establish some efficient milk price-related rules for the market.
EMB members from 14 European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK, attended the two day protest.
They were also joined by Polish and Latvian dairy farmer.
Cost of production
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, EMB director Silvia Dӓberitz said that the protests were triggered by the failure of the European Parliament to follow through with previous regulatory promises.
“Politicians have promised to do something to resolve this, but nothing they have done so far helps. We want flexible volume control through a European Monitoring Agency, so that milk production can be regulated,” said Dӓberitz.
“Since nothing has been done since our last protests in 2009, now is time to protest.”
Commenting on the protests, EMB president, Romuald Schaber added that the “future can only be secured” through the development of such a monitoring system.
“The fact that so many colleagues from all over Europe came to demonstrate shows how important the future of rural agriculture serving society’s needs is for them,” said Schaber.
“The closure of farms in Europe affects our society and has to be ended. It is caused by absurd overproduction, which puts pressure on prices. Actions to commemorate our colleagues who had to abandon their farm cannot become the rule.”
This week’s farmer-led assault on Brussels follows a summer of protests and blockades by dairy farmers in the UK.
Dairy processors including Arla Foods UK, Robert Wiseman Dairies and Dairy Crest were targeted by campaign group, Farmers for Action (FFA), which organised the disruptions.
In response to the disruptions and increased public backing of the farmers, a number of processors increased the price they pay to dairy farmers for raw milk.
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