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Dairy farmers threaten strike over retail pricing

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Dairy farmers threaten strike over retail pricing
Photo: DPA
09:02 CEST+02:00
Every fourth German dairy farmer is going broke and the industry is planning widespread protests against retail milk pricing practices in the coming days, daily Die Welt reported on Monday.

“We will fight,” President of the German dairy farmer's federation (BDM), Romuald Schaber, told the paper. “The new reduction in milk prices, contrary to promises made at the milk summit, needs a clear answer.”

Schaber told the paper that dairy farmers have not ruled out a delivery strike like the one they staged in May 2008. During the 10-day protest farmers openly threw surplus milk down drains, fed it to their calves, or spread it over crops. Meanwhile some consumers had difficulty finding milk on grocery store shelves.

“It's an option for us,” Schaber said, adding that retail pricing policies were destroying farmers' livelihoods.

“We won't allow ourselves to be frightened by the antitrust agency. We are not afraid,” he said. Instead, the government should concern itself with whether the current dairy prices are tantamount to farmers throwing their milk away, he said.

Supermarkets and discount grocery stores recently dropped milk prices by €0.07 to just €0.48 per litre, Die Welt reported. At this price dairy farmers get just €0.20 to €0.25 per litre, though they need between €0.35 to €0.45, depending on their region, to make ends meet, the BDM told the paper.

“The situation is very serious,” Schaber said. “We estimate that by the end of the year 25 to 30 percent of the German dairy farmer market will disappear.”

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