Angry farmers spray EU HQ with milk powder

Milk producers spray powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels January 23, 2017. —  Reuters pic
Milk producers spray powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels January 23, 2017. — Reuters pic

BRUSSELS, Jan 23 — European dairy farmers protesting against falling prices sprayed tonnes of milk powder over the EU’s headquarters today as agriculture ministers held talks there.

Dozens of farmers from Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Lithuania used a powerful spray on the back of a tractor to turn the European Council building snowy white.

They were protesting against a decision by the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation EU, to gradually put back on the market milk powder stocks that had been withdrawn.

“It’s a sharp reminder that the main problem has not been resolved,” said protestor Henri Lecloux, a member of farm campaign groups Via Campesina and MAP. 

The European Commission decided at the end of November to put on sale a small portion of milk powder stocks that had built up for more than one year in member states, or six per cent (22,150 tonnes) of 355,000 tonnes that had been withdrawn.

The EU insisted it would not sell at any price, but eventually decided to put on sale some stocks following “encouraging signals about a pickup in the milk market,” a commission spokeswoman said.

The farmers however oppose any sale of the milk.

“For many producers, the situation is increasingly a question of survival,” Sieta van Keimpema, vice president of the European Milk Board, which organised the protest, said in a statement.

The EU’s heavily-subsidised farmers have held a series of often messy protests in Brussels in recent years in protest against plunging food prices and soaring costs they say are killing their livelihoods. — AFP

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