Plummeting milk price sees farmers' anger reach boiling point
Updated: 2015-09-07 21:01
By Fu Jing and Gao Shuang in Brussels(chinadaily.com.cn)
Some 6,000 farmers and 2,000 tractors rolled into Brussels and occupied Schuman Square on Monday to protest against the falling price of milk products as European agriculture ministers were meeting to try and come up with supportive measures.
The protest began on Sunday and farmers across European countries have flooded into the European capital, driving tractors, waving flags and shouting slogans such as: "Your policy ruins dairy farmers." Sculptures of cows are shown before the gates of European External Action Services, European Union's arm of foreign affairs.
Schuman Square was cut in two, with farmers and police peacefully staring at each other. Traffic was stopped in the European institution area.
In an unrelated incident, EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan was taken to hospital with a stomach viral infection and could not appear at the meeting.
It is said that lifting of the EU's three-decades old milk quota in April 2015, Russia's ban of European agricultural exports, drought and consumers' declining purchasing power are to blame for farmers' worsening situation.
Organizers said protesters are from 16 European countries.
Steidele Martha, 45, is a farmer from Germany, who said the price of milk was 40 cents per liter before, but now the price dropped to 28 cents.
"So we cannot run the farm. We want new regulation of the milk market," said Martha.
Martha said more than 400 tractors were driven from Germany and it took 16 hours from their home to Brussels.
Gabriel Joseph Menet, 57, a farmer from France, also complained that the price of milk is going down, as does the price of pork, lamb, and beef. "We want the price to go up again," he said.
Dorota Smigielska, 29, is a milk market specialist from Poland, who said the price of milk is low, however the cost remains high because Poland is really dry.
"When there was the quota limit, Poland produced more milk than the limit so we have to pay extra to the exceed liter," said Smigielska. "Now the limit is removed, so we also want our money back alongside the rise of dairy price."
Although Switzerland is not a European Union member more than 40 farmers took to the streets of Brussels. Juncker Marco, 26, was one of them.
"There is no limit to how much you produce, and the price is falling, so we want them to open the quota again and I hope the meeting in the European Commission will reach a reasonable result."