Milk emergency: Farmers face water cannons as they stage huge protest in Brussels against falling prices

Sarah Spickernell
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In the UK, milk lost a quarter of its price last year (Source: Getty)
Today, thousands of farmers have driven their tractors into Brussels to protest against falling milk prices in Europe.
They are gathering outside the headquarters of the European Union, bringing traffic to a standstill. The protest coincides with an emergency meeting held by the EU Agriculture Council in the Belgian capital.
Anti-riot police have been trying to keep the protest under control, and so far one officer has been injured.
Water cannons are being used to put out burning straw fires lit by he protesters.
According to the National Farmers Union in the UK, dairy farmers face a “state of emergency” following a 25 per cent decline in wholesale prices of milk in 2014. The sharp decline is putting the livelihoods of farmers on the line.
Farmers from France, Switzerland and Belgium are among those protesting alongside UK farmers today. One option expected to be discussed at the meeting is the introduction of quotas across the capital to reduce the strain.

Farmers places painted cows in front of the EU Commission building, each with “fair milk” written on it in a different language (Source: Getty)

Disagreements over the cause

In the UK, farmers and supermarkets are at odds over how the price decline came about.
On the one hand, farmers say milk was one of the biggest victims of the price war between major supermarkets, resulting in fierce price cuts to the product.
The supermarkets, meanwhile, refuse to accept responsibility, saying instead that the fall is the result of an oversupply across the continent. Nonetheless, they have made amends to help the struggling farmers.
Tesco has switched from using German milk to using British milk to create its own-brand yoghurts, while Morrisons, Lidl and Asda have agreed to pay more to the farmers.

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