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French Farmers Launch Milk Strike

French dairy producers launched a “milk strike” Sept. 10, which they hope will spread across Europe and force the authorities to take more action to counter a slump in the dairy sector.

French dairy unions the OPL and APLI called for producers to throw their milk away, after a meeting of the European Milk Board (EMB), a dairy farmers’ lobby.

“I call for producers to open the floodgates after this evening’s milking,” said Pascal Massol, APLI’s president.

The protesting farmers are hoping the threat of shortages will prompt a swift response from the authorities, although the impact of the strike may be limited given that France’s main farm union, the FNSEA, opposes it.

The EMB stopped short of calling for a European-wide milk strike, with its president Romuald Schaber saying anti-cartel rules in Germany prevented a similar call there.

But Schaber and representatives from the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg told the gathering in Paris they would personally participate in the milk strike.

The EMB is notably calling for measures to raise prices paid to farmers to 40 euro cents a litre, compared to lows of around 20 cents this year, to bring prices above production costs.

USDA Says It Will Buy Pork

U. S. hog futures closed higher as investors bought futures following comments by the U. S. agriculture secretary Sept. 10 that USDA will soon buy more pork to help struggling hog producers.

Gains triggered by the secretary’s remarks triggered buying by wealthy investment funds, which sent some contracts to an 11-week high, before slipping back.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said more pork purchases could occur in fiscal year 2010 which starts on Oct. 1.

John Textor, independent hog trader, said any additional meat purchases by the USDA for feeding programs would not greatly help hog producers. “Every dollar that’s extra goes in Smithfield’s and Excel’s pockets -it’s not going to help hog farmers,” Textor said. “Buying meat doesn’t help hog farmers.”

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