Let the dairy farmers’ demonstration at the European Parliament in Brussels be a lesson to us all: don’t anger the dairy farmers or you’ll get hosed down with fresh milk. As part of a two-day protest, hundreds of farmers convened in a park near the European Commission, blocking traffic and turning their milk hoses toward the marble, glass, and steel parliament buildings.
Police and passersby got their fair share of fresh milk, too. Officers dressed down in full body suits, helmets, and shields stood their ground even when hoses were turned on them, high pressure streams of milk shooting their way. Now they wonder if the smell will ever come out. We think probably not.
So what got dairy farmers so up in arms to begin with? The European Milk Board says current milk quotas are excessive and are putting small farmers out of business. In Belgium, one liter of milk sells for a wholesale price of .26 euros—but it costs .40 euros to produce. Its current quota is about 130 million tons of milk, but that number goes beyond what the EU can consume.
This is not the first protest by farmers over quotas and wholesale prices. In 2009, there were similar demonstrations that ultimately led to an increase in wholesale prices. This demonstration was planned for Monday, November 26th until Tuesday, November 27th.
After the dairy farmers exhausted their supply of spray milk, they set out barrels of hay and piles of tires—which they promptly lit on fire. This caused billowing black smoke to form a dark column in the sky. There has been no violence reported, but dairy farmers are hoping to send Parliament a message through such demonstrations, encouraging a positive change.