Farmers spray milk powder on EU Council to protest dairy market overcapacity

Dairy farmers protesting low milk prices sprayed a ton of milk powder onto a building used by EU leaders for summits in Brussels on Monday, January 23rd, saying a planned sale of milk powder stocks would depress prices in Europe and abroad.

The European Union has bought large quantities of skimmed milk powder to stabilize the market but said in November it would start disposing of some of it after prices had improved.

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Dairy farmers protesting low milk prices
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Dairy farmers protesting low milk prices

Milk producers spray powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

A milk producer tries to extinguish a flare as farmers spray powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

A man walks past the entrance to the European Union Council building after it was sprayed with powdered milk by farmers protesting against dairy market overcapacity in Brussels, Belgium January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

Milk producers spray powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

A woman walks past the entrance of the European Union Council building after it was sprayed with powdered milk by farmers protesting against dairy market overcapacity in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

A man walks his dog next to a model of a cow as milk producers protest against dairy market overcapacity outside the meeting venue of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

A sign against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is pictured on a bench outside the European Council in Brussels, after farmers sprayed powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity, Belgium January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

A Belgian milk producer sprays powdered milk next to a model of a cow to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

Milk producers spray powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

A man runs for cover as milk producers spray powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

Belgian police officers watch as milk producers spray powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

A model of a cow is pictured on a tractor after milk producers sprayed powdered milk to protest against dairy market overcapacity outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

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Farmers protesting in front of the European Council's Justus Lipsius building, where EU governments regularly meet, said they feared that putting the milk powder back onto the market would depress prices in the EU and abroad.

Protesters used farm machinery to cover the building and nearby police officers in a thick coat of the sticky, white powder.

The European Commission said only a small amount of the total milk powder stock of 354,000 tonnes was for sale and sales would be made without affecting prices or market stability.

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