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European farmers, angry about both low food prices and by impending animal tagging rules, crowded the roads around central Luxembourg on Monday as European Union officials gathered to discuss agricultural policies. Farmers blocked streets with tractors, carried signs (above) like “Farmers in Torment,” and set afire a stack of hay outside the European Court of Justice. Like American dairyman, European milk producers are in particular trouble. Farmers heaved bottles of milk against the shields of police. European dairy producers are upset that severe drops in farmgate prices are not showing up on grocery shelves.
Reports varied, but as many as 5,000 farmers and 1,000 tractors were engaged in the protest. They came from 27 countries. Sheep raisers were particularly evident in the protest. These farmers are protesting proposed rules that would require electronic tags on each animal — a proposal similar to the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in this country. Irish farmers penned some sheep at the head of this protest.
The animal tagging controversy has generated considerable ire among British stockmen. They estimate that calls to place an electronic tag on each animal will cost about $5 per head. The National Farmers Union Scotland has said the system would both reduce the size of herds and would fail in the Scottish terrain.