"Nichts mehr davon, ich bitt euch. Zu essen gebt ihm, zu wohnen.
Habt ihr die Blöße bedeckt, gibt sich die Würde von selbst."
Friedrich Schiller
  May 2008 FOOD

Strikes and Protests of Milk Farmers Spread across Europe

Following repeated warning strike actions and other forms of select protests in Germany, France, Spain, the milk farmers are now launching protests and milk delivery strikes against dairies in numerous countries. Stefan Mann of the board of the German Milk Farmers Association, which began an unlimited milk strike yesterday, told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily today that milk farmers will join in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, parts of France, and that talks are ongoing with Irish farmers. The call for a fair production price above 40 cents per liter of milk is at the center of the mobilization. At present, farmers receive as little as 26-27 cents per liter, and if it is more, they will get, as in some parts of Germany, not more than 30 cents.

In the Netherlands, some 150 Dutch farmers waged a protest action Tuesday for better prices of their produce. 50,000 liters of milk were sprayed on the land instead of taken to the factory. Furthermore, the entrance to the milk factory was blocked by tractors. The Dutch Dairymen Board, which represents 4000 farmers, initiated the action. They want to draw attention to the fact that the costs of production are higher than current market prices. Currently they receive 37 Euro-cents a liter while 45 cents is the current price parity.

A similar pattern of protests is rapidly spreading throughout Europe. Another farmer states on a regional television report that last December the price they received was 50 cents for a liter of milk. Now it has dropped by 25%. Meanwhile, over the course of the last two years, the price of cattle feed has risen by 200%. In response, the milk factory, Friesland Foods, stated that the action will have no effect on the milk price because it is set worldwide. More protests are expected tomorrow, as farmers in the entire country will join in the protest actions.

Sieta van Keimpema, chairwoman of the Dutch Dairymen Board and vice-president of the European Milk Board, called on Dutch farmers to spill their milk on the grain fields, and the Austrian IG Milch called on its members to deliver 50% less milk to the dairies. In Germany, 30% less milk reached the dairies already yesterday.