Dairy farmers flood fields with milk to protest of low prices

Angry dairy farmers poured more than 100,000 litres of milk on streets and fields across Germany on Thursday to protest market prices they say are too low.

Dairy farmers flood fields with milk to protest of low prices
Photo: DPA

“With this action we want to call attention to our enormous grievances caused by perverse policies,” Engelbert Vogerl, head of the eastern Allgäu regional chapter of the German Federal Dairy Farmers Association (BDM).

A group of BDM members near the Bavarian town of Irpisdorf brought tractors and transporters full of milk to spray on fields.

Meanwhile, 100 others met at a market square in the Rhineland-Palatinate town of Erbendorf to pour their milk down the gutters.

In the Lower Saxon city of Visselhövede, farmers said they spilled 70,000 litres of milk on a field.

Among them was farmer Ottmar Böhling from Rotenburg, who told journalists his group wanted to show solidarity with dairy farmers suffering across Europe.

Head of the National Union of Farmers (DBV), Gerd Sonnleitner, was also critical of European Union plans to help struggling dairy farmers. EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has said the EU could give the farmers a one-off payment of between €7,500 and €15,000 to cover their losses and asked individual countries to buy up excess milk on the market to artificially increase prices.

Sonnleitner called the plans “highly dangerous.”

“The commission is moving far too slowly, far too vaguely,” he said.

Germany’s 90,000 dairy farmers have been fighting for more than a year – staging delivery boycotts, strikes and large demonstrations – to gain attention to their plight.

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Let them eat bread: the origins of the French baguette

More than six billion baguettes are baked each year in France and UNESCO has now inscribed the tradition in its “intangible cultural heritage” list.

Let them eat bread: the origins of the French baguette

The French baguette – one of the country’s most abiding images – was given world heritage status by UNESCO on Wednesday, the organisation announced.

READ ALSO French baguette gets UNESCO world heritage status

Here are some of the more popular theories:

Napoleon’s Bread of War
The oldest tale has the baguette being kneaded by bakers in Napoleon’s army. Less bulky than a traditional loaf, the long slim shape of the baguette made it faster to bake in brick ovens hastily erected on the battlefield.

France’s most famous man of war was preoccupied with getting his men their daily bread.

During his Russian campaign in 1812, he toured the ovens daily to sample the day’s offering and ensure the crusty batons were being distributed regularly, according to historian Philippe de Segur.

He also had portable bread mills sent to occupied Moscow, but the setbacks suffered by the Grande Armee in one of the deadliest military campaigns in history ended his bid to export the doughy staple.

Viennese connection
Another theory has the baguette starting out in a Viennese bakery in central Paris in the late 1830s.

Artillery officer and entrepreneur August Zang brought Austria’s culinary savoir-faire to Paris in the form of the oval-shaped bread that were standard in his country at the time.

According to the Compagnonnage des boulangers et des patissiers, the French bakers’ network, Zang decided to make the loaves longer to make them easier for the city’s breadwomen to pluck from the big carts they pushed through the city’s streets.

Breaking bread
Another theory has the baguette being born at the same time as the metro for the 1900 Paris Exposition.

People from across France came to work on the underground and fights would often break out on site between labourers armed with knives, which they used to slice big round loaves of bread for lunch.

According to the history site, to avoid bloodshed, one engineer had the idea of ordering longer loaves that could be broken by hand.

Early rising
In 1919, a new law aimed to improve the lives of bakers by banning them from working from 10 pm to 4 am.

The reform gave them less time to prepare the traditional sourdough loaf for the morning, marked the widespread transition to what was called at the
time the yeast-based “flute”, which rose faster and was out of the oven in under half an hour.

Standardised at 80 centimeters (30 inches) and 250 grams (eight ounces) with a fixed price until 1986, the baguette was initially the mainstay of wealthy metropolitans, but after World War II became the emblem of all French people.