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No let up in milk protests - farmers

Milk give-aways and manure spraying to continue until EU agrees to hold a special ministers’ meeting to discuss prices

MILK farmers have vowed to go on with strikes and protests despite special loans being organised to help them.

The announcement that €250 million is being set aside by the government to give them preferential-rate loans is an “advance” but not enough, according to the farmers.

Farmers’ bodies the Coordination Rurale and the Organisation des Producteurs de Lait said: “These encouraging signs do not allow the producers to let up on the pressure.”

Some farmers have resorted to spraying their “worthless” milk on their fields or, in one case, flooding a local bank branch with it.

In Paris yesterday the public were invited to fill bottles from a milk tanker lorry. About 100 people benefited from the action, which was organised by the Confédération Paysanne, who said it was better to hand milk out than to throw it away.

There have been increasing protest actions including spreading manure and causing blockages with vehicles in front of industrial milk firms’ premises.

The president of the Association des Producteurs de Lait, Daniel Condat, said: "Protests must continue and the price of milk must go back above the production cost."

The movement started on September 10 against falling prices and the deregulation of the milk market supported by Brussels.

Agriculture Minister Bruno le Maire has responded to demands to hold a meeting of European agricultural ministers and is now supported by 19 out of 27 states.

He has suggested the government could supervise regulated new contracts between milk producers and the firms who take their milk supplies which would replace Brussels quotas. Insurers have also offered to help farmers by deferring subscription payments. However the protesters want tighter regulation of the market by Brussels, not more opening up.

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