Stockbreeders and milk producers protest conditions – video

Stockbreeders and milk producers protest conditions – video

Serbia's stockbreeders and milk producers staged a protest, demanding higher milk premiums and state subsidies. The farmers also called on the state to ban milk imports. The president pledged that the government will increase milk premium within 7 to 8 days.


Ibar Valley swimming in milk

Around a thousand unhappy farmers gathered recently on the busy road running through the Ibar valley. By the temporary traffic disruption, they wanted to protest the impossible conditions stockbreeders and milk producers are struggling with. Milk premium is low and the drought destroyed animal feeds, farmers say, adding that import products abounding in shops pose insuperable competition for them. As part of their protest, they poured out bottles of milk, with footage filmed on the spot showing hundreds of litres of milk flowing along the road. While the kids jumped into the white river, splashing around with pleasure, their parents were rather upset that their daily hard work was no longer enough to support themselves and their families.

“We cannot hold out any longer. The price of milk dropped by 20 dinars (16 euro cents) overnight, which is unacceptable. We didn’t want to come here and do this, but we are not seen and heard otherwise. There is is no more room for negotiations with the ministry or with the buyers. We can only negotiate with one person and that’s Aleksandar Vucic,”

one dissatisfied farmer said at the demonstration.

They understand that the country is struggling with difficulties, but they simply cannot hold out any longer, said the head of the organisation representing farmers’ interests. As he put it, they cannot tell cows, pigs or lambs to wait patiently for 3 months to be fed.

Photo: V4NA

Local producers are overwhelmed by imports, Predrag Veljkovic, a local producer, said, pointing out that they are being paid less and less money, while the price of milk has remained unchanged in shops. What they want to achieve is a ban on imports, so that milk factories would not buy the raw material from abroad but from local producers, just like before, he stressed.

“Allow us to work the way we have for years,” the producer demanded.

Traffic was blocked for 45 minutes on the road in the Ibar valley, with the farmers only letting through ambulances and police vehicles. The roadblock formed kilometre-long queues in both directions. The demonstrations of farmers, however, continue. Next time they will take to the streets in Belgrade. Dairy producer Dejan Trajkovic, who also participated in the meetings with the government, said that they handed over their demands to the relevant ministry.

“We ask the residents to understand us, it is for the benefit of all of us. Come out and support us! We don’t want to spill the milk, we want to distribute it among all those present. Take it home and drink it!”

Photo: V4NA

Pay the outstanding amounts and increase the premium

The farmers had informed the government of their demands already before the Ibar Valley demonstration. On the one hand, they request the leadership to pay any unpaid aid and on the other hand to raise the milk premium from the current 10 dinars to 20 dinars (from 8 euro cents to 16 euros cents) per litre. They also propose to the ministry to set a minimum milk price below which dairy factories would not be permitted to buy milk. Also, they want the state to limit imports to the amount absolutely necessary to ensure smooth supply. They also demand an increase in the state aid after registered cows to 40,000 dinars (340 euros) instead of the current 25,000 dinars (213 euros).

Photo: Facebook

Responding to a question by an MP, President Aleksandar Vucic spoke about the situation of dairy farmers in an extraordinary meeting of the parliament on Thursday. He said that he had discussed the matter with the prime minister, the agricultural minister and the finance minister. He stated that the government would raise the milk premium payable after cows, adding that the related decision is expected to be made in 7-8 days.



agrar, balkan, demonstration, milk, serbia