Italian dairy farmers have been protesting in Rome against part of the government’s austerity package that hits some hard, and annoys Brussels.
Farmers exceeding milk quotas pay fines to the EU, and many pay promptly. Now the government wants to suspend the fines until the end of the year, and those who have already paid are crying foul.
“At this point there are only two options; either the state quickly checks and forces those in arrears to pay up, or their sums are wrong and they have to make refunds. If they don’t do either there will be unending social unrest.”
“Today, if you don’t produce enough you don’t make a profit. So either everyone pays their fines or the state gives me my money back, because I have big, big loans to pay,” were two typical farmer’s comments.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition partner the Northern League pushed for the measure, which will cover about 360 million euros for some 650 farms.
The EU has been attempting to rein back Italy’s dairy surplus for years, and Rome has already been behind in its Dairy Levy payments.