Amid increasing protest by desperate farmers, all eyes are on European officials today for the announcement of new ideas on how to help the milk industry.
Three million litres of milk were poured away by Belgian farmers yesterday, who say they cannot live on the meagre prices their product is sold for. They say they need 40 euro cents a litre to break even; at present some are not even getting half that. There were similar protests in Germany, France and the Netherlands. Sieta Van Keimpena, the Vice President of the European Milk Board, said: “Well, it is not our goal to have the shops empty, but if this continues, then in a week you will know that the farmers are on strike.” The dairy farmers say they feel let down by their politicians, who are planning to increase production quotas, which they fear will drive prices down further. When asked if the situation was hard on the family, one farmer said: “For 27 years I have been going to the barn twice a day, hoping my son can make a living out of this, but apparently he won’t. People in suits and ties want us to disappear, and we don’t want to let them do that to us.” The European commissioner responsible for the industry is expected to speak out on the issue today; words which will be scrutinised on farms across Europe.