Crying over spilled milk? Italian farmers' unusual protest over low dairy prices

Crying over spilled milk? Italian farmers' unusual protest over low dairy prices
Copyright  Screenshot, courtesy of Unione Sarda newspaper
By Sandrine Amiel

Shepherds say they'd rather tip away their milk than sell it for nothing.

Shepherds from the Italian island of Sardinia are spilling their milk to protest the recent fall in prices.

Videos showing farmers throwing their milk away went viral, while #iostoconnando, the name of the shepherd who initiated the movement on Wednesday, became a trending hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

The footage was shared with a common motto: "I'd rather dump it than sell it for next to nothing".

One of the videos featured 23-year old farmer Francesco Pintore (see the video player, above) patiently awaiting the arrival of a dairy truck, only to spill the milk.

"There is no milk for you, you've been going around in circles pointlessly, just like me. I do this for my mom [sic], my brothers and the good soul of my father, " the young farmer said.

Current sheep milk prices have dropped to €0.60 per litre compared to €0.85 last year. The slide is linked to a fall in the price of the popular Pecorino Romano cheese, which absorbs about half of the Sardinian sheep milk production.

Farmers are demanding that prices be raised to €0.70 per litre at least.

Milk distributors have refused to make concessions so far but negotiations are on-going, according to local paper Unione Sarda.

On Wednesday, another video showed a lorry driver forced to stop and spill his milk on the road.

In recession-hit Italy, this method of protest has sparked criticism.

Gianluigi Crobu, a spokesman for the movement, has asked his fellow shepherds not to waste the milk but to find other ways of distributing it to the community instead.

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