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Brussels besieged!

FURY OVER Europe's collapsing dairy sector boiled over this week as thousands of producers took to the streets of Brussels in a huge demonstration that ended with Belgian riot police getting hosed down with high pressure milk.

Around 2500 farmers and nearly 1000 tractors, gathered under the banner of the European Milk Board, paraded and blockaded the streets of the home of the European Commission, with the aim of pressuring the EU's decision-makers into taking action to stabilise the failing milk market.

Underlining those demands, the protesting farmers spent the night in a big marquee built in front of the European Parliament. Amongst them, the only UK representative was Farmers For Action's Northern Ireland spokesman, William Taylor. Speaking from Brussels, Mr Taylor told The Scottish Farmer: "This was quite an education. The anger and frustration was so evident and not surprising given that 157,000 dairy farmers across Europe – including 1100 in the UK – have gone out of business since 2009.

"At the meeting where Ciolos addressed the crowd, 15 candles were lit and set in front of him representing each European country with their flag of origin. I lit the UK candle. There was then a minute's silence for those who have gone out of business because of what has happened in the milk sector," said Mr Taylor.

"Ciolos said that there was no need for any further protests, claimed he was 'on the case' and that his door was 'always open' to dairy representatives, but it would take time to sort the industry's problems out. We told him in no uncertain terms that there wasn't any time left."

EMB president Romuald Schaber said:"The fact that so many colleagues from all over Europe came to demonstrate shows how important the future of rural agriculture serving society's needs is for them. This future can only be secured thanks to a flexible supply management through a European monitoring agency. The current overproduction sets European milk markets on fire and the European Institutions have to take appropriate measures in order to extinguish it."

This is what the protesting farmers were up to when they started spraying milk on the buildings of the European Parliament with fire hoses, he explained.

"The closure of farms in Europe affects our society and has to stop. It is caused by absurd overproduction. Actions to commemorate our colleagues who had to abandon their farm cannot become the rule."

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