Protesting low prices for their product and generally choking traffic in the Belgian capital, thousands of farmers with their tractors in tow sprayed the European Union headquarters with milk. Police tried to stop them and in turn, got their share of the milky spray.
A fire was started in the street by one group, but, despite a small battle with the riot police, there was no major violence in the protest.
from several European Union nations were protesting what they say are excessive milk quotas, and are demanding a higher price for milk, which they say is often being sold at below production costs, threatening the survival of their farms. The farmers are planning to stay outside parliament until Tuesday afternoon.
According to the European Milk Board
, which coordinated the protest, prices with current quotas are putting small dairy farmers out of business. They quote the example of Belgium, where the wholesale price for a liter of milk is 0.26 euro cents, but the actual cost of producing it is 0.40 euro cents.
The European Union is the largest milk producer in the world, and apparently 40% of the EU's annual 130 billion euro budget is spent on subsidies and other forms of financial support to farmers, including dairy farmers.
An annual milk quota is set by the EU at around 130 million tonnes, which is too much for European Union consumption. However, it has been agreed to phase this out by 2015.
Farmers from across Belgium, and also from France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands came to protest on Monday and were joined by around 100 farmers from Poland and other countries, bringing a total of almost 2,500 farmers with around 1,000 tractors.
have been held by farmers in the past, including one in 2009 which did lead to a small increase in the wholesale prices of milk.
About the video
, one witty YouTube commenter said, "Dammit, they'll have calcium fortified riot police if they continue this."