Belgian farmers dump milk in protest over falling prices

BRUSSELS- Belgian farmers dumped 150,000 liters of milk into fields Sunday as anger mounted over falling prices, with one Belgian official lashing out at the European Commission's "autism" over the problem.
"I cannot understand the autism of the commission," Andre Antoine, the finance minister of the Wallon region, told RTBF television as members of the European milk producers' association pressed on with their strike.

Belgian farmers dump milk in protest over falling prices
Antoine, a member of the centrist CDH party, accused European agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel of being driven by "unrestrained liberalism."
Farmers poured 150,000 liters (40,000 gallons) of milk into fields near an agriculture fair in Marche-en-Famenne in the southern Wallon region.
Since Friday, Belgian farmers have dumped milk on highways and given out free milk in some cities in response to a call to action from the European Milk Board (EMB), which represents about a third of Europe's dairy producers.
The latest action comes after European Union farm ministers failed to agree on an aid package for the sector during a Brussels meeting on September 7.
In November, EU agriculture ministers agreed to lift milk production quotas by one percent per year before scrapping them for 2014-2015.
The European Commission, which is the European Union's executive arm, has agreed to introduce limited aid but has refused to go back on its decision to scrap the quota system.
Fischer Boel also opposes calls from some nations to reconsider the elimination of the quotas.

Monday, September 14th 2009

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