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

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