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September 12, 2009

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Milk protests spread

DAIRY farmers across Europe held back milk yesterday in a growing industrial dispute over low prices which could limit supplies next week.

Farmers from Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg joined French counterparts, who announced plans to strike on Thursday, the European Milk Board said.

A group of Belgian farmers flooded a main square in the southern city of Charleroi with milk yesterday morning as part of the protest that has also included blocking roads and preventing trucks from picking up milk.

Dutch and Italian farmers were also considering action, an EMB spokeswoman said.

The milk producers want a cut in production quotas for the financial year, which they believe would boost prices.

The EMB estimated that 40 percent of producers were on strike in France.

A 10-day milk strike in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria last year led to local milk shortages, the EMB said.

The European Commission, which administers and regulates farm policy for the European Union's 27 member countries, has dismissed the idea that the milk quota system, due to expire in 2015, is to blame for weak prices.


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