Farmers block Belgium-France roads over falling milk prices

14th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Belgian dairy farmers blocked two major roads into France with tractors on Monday in protest against falling milk prices, as European Union agriculture ministers met to debate the problem.

BRUSSELS - Trucks were unable to pass the barriers -- set between Tournai in southern Belgium and Lille in northern France, and Mons and Valenciennes -- while cars had managed slowly to get through, Belga news agency reported.

The road blocks were put up late Sunday despite an agreement between Belgium's Fedis distributors federation and milk producers.

European farmers have staged several months of protests demanding support through financial aid or by limiting supplies, as dairy prices collapse due to low demand.

The European Commission has announced limited aid but has refused to go back on a decision to scrap milk quotas.

Last November, EU farm ministers agreed to lift milk production quotas by one percent per year before scrapping them altogether in 2014-2015.

Quotas were introduced in 1984 to support prices and tackle notorious butter mountains and milk lakes in Europe created by overproduction.

On Thursday, the commission decided to extend for six months a scheme under which producers who cannot sell butter, or who do not want to due to low milk prices, are given subsidies to put it into private storage.

Brussels is expected to unveil other measures on July 22.


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