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French call for EU milk help

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French call for EU milk help

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The new French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire has appealed to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to intervene in the falling milk price crisis. Le Maire called for an analysis of why the prices have fallen. This was reiterating recent calls by European Union leaders.

Le Maire suggests the EU bring back stockpiling dairy products to lower the amount reaching the market. Farmers say they need help urgently, because a halving of prices over the last year is forcing them to sell below cost. Thousands of them from across the EU have been protesting in Brussels recently, demanding the bloc reconsider ending quotas that guarantee prices. The farmers complain that while the amount wholesalers pay them for milk has fallen dramatically, the cost to consumers in supermarkets has held steady. Last November, the EU farm ministers agreed to lift milk production quotas by one percent per year before scrapping them outright by 2015. The quotas were introduced in 1984.