French dairy farmers are to begin a week of protests including a national day of demonstrations on Tuesday as their industry reaches crisis point.
Plummeting milk prices and soaring operation costs are expected to force up to 30% of them to go out of business by the end of this year. One farmer said: “Receipts show that in March 2009 I was paid 308 euros for a thousand litres, but when April came along I only got 212 euros.” Last month, French farmers blockaded several dairy companies across France to protest against wholesale buyers slashing milk prices amid a slump in global demand. They want action taken to restore stability to the increasingly volatile market. French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier said: “ The industrialists must make an effort to have fair contracts with the producers. They should offer them in advance a fair price.” The problem is also being felt in neighbouring Germany where six dairy farmers in Bavaria have staged a hunger strike demanding that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government fight the falling milk prices. Across Europe the average price of milk has halved in the last 18 months. Many in the industry say it is time for governments to help more than just the bankers and are calling for tax cuts to aid struggling farmers