Milk strike in Belgium
A Belgian milk producer pours milk on the main square in the Belgium’s city of Charleroi yesterday. French dairy unions urged producers in the European Union’s countries to throw their milk away in a strike they hope will spread across Europe and force the authorities to take more action to counter a slump in the dairy sector
Dairy farmers across Europe held back milk yesterday in a growing industrial dispute over low prices which could limit supplies next week.
Farmers from Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg joined French counterparts, who announced plans to strike on Thursday, the European Milk Board (EMB) said.
A group of Belgian farmers flooded a main square in the southern city of Charleroi with milk yesterday morning as part of the protest that has also included blocking roads and preventing trucks from picking up milk.
Dutch and Italian farmers were also considering action, an EMB spokeswoman said.
The milk producers want a cut in production quotas for the financial year, which they believe would boost prices.
The EMB estimated that 40% of producers were on strike in France.
A 10-day milk strike in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria last year led to local milk shortages, the EMB said.
The European Commission, which administers and regulates farm policy for the European Union’s 27 member countries, has dismissed the idea that the milk quota system, due to expire in 2015, is to blame for weak prices.
Commission officials say EU milk production is expected to be between 4% and 5% below maximum quotas this year.
The Commission has already taken a series of steps to shore up dairy markets, including reinstating export subsidies and private storage.
It has raised ceilings on volumes of butter and skimmed milk powder that can be bought into public intervention stores, to remove supply from the market.
Dairy farmers have staged a series of protests in recent months. Hundreds drove tractors into Brussels in June before an EU summit, causing traffic chaos.