UK farmers join thousands protesting poor prices in Brussels

European farmers say 6,000 people from across the EU, are expected at the protest

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The Independent Online

Thousands of angry European farmers are protesting poor returns ahead of an EU Agriculture Ministers’ urgent meeting on Monday.

UK  farmers have joined their European counterparts protesting in Brussels, where they are demanding emergency EU funds to help them cope with plunging food prices.

European farmers say 6,000 people from across the EU, are expected at the protest. They are expected bring the Belgian capital to a standstill with 2,000 tractors.

National Farmers Union of England & Wales (NFU) has been giving live updates and encouraged its followers to show support by using the hastags #BackBritishFarming and #farmaction on Twitter.

The demonstration follows a summer of protests in several European countries, notably French farmers who disrupted traffic at the height of the tourist season.

With the imposition of the Russian ban on Western products imposed to EU as a sanction over Ukraine crisis last year, combined with a slowing Chinese demand and change in dietary habits farmers have been increasingly under pressure with prices down for beef, pork and milk.

The National Farmers Union has said dairy farmers face a "state of emergency" after a 25 per cent fall in the wholesale price of milk in the past year.

UK farming unions believe there are measures that should be taken in the short, medium and long term by the UK and devolved administrations in close collaboration with the EU institutions to address the problems facing the farming sector.

Amongst others they are asking for the intervention prices in the dairy sector to be reviewed to match the current higher cost of milk production.

They hope UK Ministers will work proactively with European colleagues, the commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to urgently explore options for short term loans to provide immediate liquidity to farm businesses, according to a 10-point statement by the British Agriculture Bureau.

 

Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss is representing the UK in Brussels on Monday. According to the Guardian, she has pledged to push for the creation of a new futures and insurance market in dairy products so that farmers can insure themselves against price fluctuations.

The European Commission is expected to assess the crisis and propose a package of measure to back farmers.

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