Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 17:15 UK

German farmers stage milk protest

Farmers demonstrate for higher milk prices next to a dairy in Leppersdorf, eastern Germany (26/05/08)
Germany is Europe's biggest milk producer

A strike by German dairy farmers over milk prices will soon lead to shortages on supermarket shelves, Germany's main dairy federation (BDM) has said.

Dairy farmers began a strike on Tuesday in protest at the price they are paid by retailers.

They want a minimum 43 euro cents a litre (34 pence). Currently they get between 28-34 euro cents a litre.

Farmers say rising fuel and feed costs have pushed up their operating costs but the retail price has not increased.

"We expect shelves to begin to empty from today or tomorrow at the latest," Romuald Schaber, head of the BDM federation, told Bayerischer Rundfunk radio on Thursday.

Mr Schaber said that 95% of the BDM's 32,000 members, who produce almost half of Germany's milk, were taking part in the strike.

Farmers have been pouring milk down drains and feeding it to their cows.

Milk prices have fallen by almost a third this year, the BDM says, in part because the European Union has raised its production quota limits by 2%.

Milk producers in neighbouring countries, including Belgium and Austria, have urged dairy farmers to join the strike or not to export to Germany.

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