EU: Russophone Bloggers React to Dairy Farmers’ Protest

On Wednesday, LJ user drugoi re-posted two Reuters photos of Belgian farmers spraying their fields with fresh milk in protest over low milk prices, and summarized the situation this way (RUS):

[…] Belgian farmers, drawn to despair by low prices offered for their produce, decided that it was more profitable for them to dump 3 million liters of milk than sell it for nothing. Currently, the milk price is approximately 18-20 euro cents per liter, while the production cost is 33 euro cents. To make dairy farming business solvent, they believe that farmers should be able to sell milk for 50 euro cents per liter. But for now they can only dream about such a price. Earlier, farmers had already blocked roads and given away the milk for free. And now here's their latest decisive action – fields near the Belgian town of Ciney have been fertilized with millions of liters of milk that no one needs. […]

And here is drugoi‘s post scriptum (RUS) to this post:

[…] They should've asked LJ users. Our experts always have recipes for all possible situations. For example, here the experts’ council could suggest giving the milk away to the starving children in Africa. Let's see who responds in the comments – and what recommendations we'll get.

LJ user drugoi has 41,453 readers among registered LiveJournal users alone, and, needless to say, many people have responded: there are 774 comments so far, and here's a translation of just a handful of them:


Would've killed them if I were God.



Indeed, they should have given it away to the needy. To export to Africa would be too costly.


Africa wouldn't allow European products in, just like Russia. The problems with sales that the local farmers are facing are much worse than those of the European farmers.


The price isn't going to go up if they give it away to the needy, because this would diminish the demand.



It's better to sell it for 20 cents than to dump it.



Last century, during the over-production crisis, they were just dumping it into the river, so here they've actually done a pretty practical thing.


In the years of the great famine in the USSR, Stalin was offered American products for free, because the demand wasn't there at all. We were too proud and categorically refused – and showed off our “abundance” by staging feasts. So the farmers were forced to burn grain and dump milk into rivers. It seemed to have helped as a result – the demand returned.


Haven't heard about the “free offers” – but it's true about farmers giving away for free, only there are no sponsors to deliver it to Africa.


There were rumors in the West that many people in the USSR are starving to death, even newspapers were writing articles about it. But the USSR was denying these rumors were true. They were even staging huge feasts for European and American guests, to demonstrate that there was no food shortage in the USSR. And the West believed it. Offers of humanitarian aid from the U.S. government to Stalin stopped coming.


In the open letter to the editor of the Manchester Guardian, Bernard Shaw calls the reports of the famine in the USSR false. (Thursday 2 March 1933)


Famine in the USSR was caused by the fact that the harvest was being taken away from the peasants and sold to the West. They needed currency for industrialization, and gas and oil weren't so popular then, grain had much more value.


Yes, the were selling. And – it was also rotting in the fields. Moreover, the West refused to buy – they had plenty of their own and the prices were collapsing towards zero.



Well… Let's take Sudan, for example. Where people are dying off like flies. And they are dumping the milk… This mentality is somewhat alike to ours.


Well, so why don't you sponsor the delivery to Sudan.


onlymax: [An article published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta on July 30, RUS]

An unprecedented action is planned for tomorrow in Ust-Labinsky region of [Kuban]. Villagers drawn to despair by low milk prices intend to publicly dump their produce into manure.

Same stuff in Stavropol region.



This did happen before… In England… Some 100 years ago… But with vegetables. They were drowned in the sea.


And our [Russian] farmers are also selling their produce for 10 rubles [22 euro cents], and in stores it costs 30 rubles [67 euro cents].


Ten rubles sounds like a good price. According to the info I have, it's from 4 to 6 rubles [8-13 euro cents].


Four rubles per liter [8 euro cents].



They should have dumped the milk into a swimming pool and then charged 50 euro cents for tickets there.



Don't they have orphanages and other preschool institutions in Belgium?


I don't think Belgian orphanages and other institutions suffers from a shortage of milk.



Aren't they making anything out of milk nowadays? […] Like, division of labor – farmers are producing milk, other farmers are making cheese and cottage cheese […] People are too lazy to produce something, it's such a Russian way – to gather, have it rot, ask for more money… This has always been the cheapest option…


Socialism does lead to this. Everyone wants subsidies from the state.



By the way, in 2002, when the EU refused to buy powdered milk from Ukraine, which resulted in a similar situation, our folks slaughtered the cows – so radical. And this reflects on the raw products market still. And [the Belgians] are just dumping the milk, drawing attention to themselves, but they aren't SLAUGHTERING the herd! It remains to be seen who is acting smarter in such a situation.



They used to get good subsidies from the national government and the EU, and now the subsidies have been significantly cut (WTO and the crisis) – and the farmers’ revenues have fallen. No one wants to buy such expensive milk. In Latvia, by the way, milk prices are even lower – approximately 6 euro cents, and there were cases when farmers weren't getting anything for their milk – like, not fat enough, etc.



Why do they need so many farmers if no one needs milk? All Belgian farmers should urgently turn into citizen journalists, bloggers, sell their tractors, buy a camera with a laptop, and they'll have enough money left to buy a ticket to [Perm] – quite a competition that's gonna be!!!!!!!!



A good way to get money for the milk:

Day One. In a convoy of milk trucks, we drive into Brussels – and water the streets [with milk].
Day Two. In a convoy of milk trucks, we drive into Brussels. It smells. We still water the streets [with milk].
Day Three. We approach Brussels. The stench is terrible. Brussels residents meet us at the city edge with money. We sell the milk.


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  • Straus

    Hi Veronica,
    Reading the selection of comments above reinforces my view that the Russian blogosphere is not generally a place for mature, rational and informed debate. Most of these people seemed to have written the first thing that came into their head without having given any serious thought to the subject or having anything meaningful to say about it. I suppose that this may, in part, reflect the fact that the readers of Russian blogs are on average quite a bit younger than their counterparts in, say, the UK, where I would expect to find a more higher and more informed level of debate. It is also, perhaps, symptomatic that Rustem Adagamov is Russia’s most popular blogger. As you know, his blog largely tends to consist of fairly bland photographs with equally anodyne snippets of text. Hardly the most intellectually stimulating fare.

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