Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 18:02 UK

EU to boost aid for dairy farms

A German dairy farmer (file pic)
German farmers are among those pressing for more EU price support

The EU has announced extra aid for dairy farmers after protests in several countries over a slump in milk prices.

The European Commission says it will change EU state aid rules to let member states pay each farmer up to 15,000 euros (£13,000) in temporary aid.

The Commission says it expects to spend an extra 600m euros this year on market measures to support dairy farmers.

In Belgium on Wednesday angry farmers dumped three million litres (660,000 gallons) of milk on fields.

French and German farmers have also dumped milk and blocked deliveries in frustration at the low prices for dairy produce.

Farmers say they want the EU to freeze planned increases in production quotas, because boosting the supply on the market lowers prices further.

The EU plans to phase out milk quotas by 2015 and to limit market intervention, with a view to scrapping it in the long term.

The Commission plans to extend EU special purchases of butter and skimmed milk powder to at least February next year, to help farmers. The European Parliament has backed the plan, but wants it to include cheese too.

These EU market interventions help support dairy prices.

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