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European Dairy Farmers Protest With Tractors, Milk Hoses

Thousands of farmers from throughout Europe came to Belgium with their tractors to protest price controls on milk.

Cows in a field by a roadside.  There is a sign that reads (in French): Demain, cette ferme sera fermée. Il n'y aura plus de merde dans mes prairies mais elle se retrouvera dans vos plats.

Photo: orangebrompton (Flickr)

The last major protests over milk prices in Europe took place in 2009, when a defeated Belgian farmer posted this sign in his field. Translation: "Tomorrow, this farm will be closed. There will be no more [expletive] on my fields but it will find itself on your plates."

Milk Money

In protest of milk price controls, between two thousand and thirty-five hundred dairy farmers with several hundred to a thousand tractors have been demonstrating outside the European Parliament in Brussels since Monday.

The European Milk Board, which orchestrated the protest, said that current pricing and quota policies are driving small farmers out of business.

A Milky Way

While tractors blocked traffic along major roadways, some farmers used high-pressure hoses to spray milk at parliament building and at police officers. Some passers-by were wet in the process.

Later, the protesters even set fire to piles of hay and tires.

Another Drop In A Large Bucket

The European dairy industry suffered a crisis in 2009, which has lead 157,000 dairy farms from going out of business. Small farmers are particularly vulnerable to the discrepancies between selling price and production cost.

“There is an answer to the closure of the farms,” says Sieta van Keimpena, vice-president of the European Milk Board, in a statement. “With the aid of a flexible supply management, a further bleeding of the milk market can be prevented.”

31 percent of the world’s milk is produced in The European Union.

Read More:

  • Dairy Farmers Spray Milk, Park Tractors In Brussels To Protest (Bloomberg Businessweek)
  • Dairy Farmers Blast European Parliament And Riot Police With Milk (The Journal)
  • Milk: Symbol Of Purity, Symbol Of Conflict (NPR)
  • European Farmers Spray Milk In Burssels Quota Protest (Reuters)
Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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