BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Dairy farmers sprayed thousands of liters of milk outside the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, creating a "milk lake" to protest against low prices.
Protesters from around Europe, including Italy, Germany, Ireland and France blocked off a square with tractors and statues of cows brightly painted in the national colors of EU member states.
One milk producer perched on a haystack and used an industrial-sized hose to spray the contents of a milk truck into a makeshift tarpaulin pool, splashing demonstrators, spectators and reporters.
The "milk lake" was intended to symbolize an oversupply of milk in the European market, with protesters ringing cowbells and denouncing moves to phase out production quotas, resulting in more milk on the market and lower prices.
European Milk Board members in flannel shirts and cowboy hats addressed the gathering. One lamented the excess milk production and how little farmers were getting paid, to loud cheers from the crowd. Another blamed the European Union's executive Commission, to even more raucous applause.
Once the "lake" was full, the pool was opened, and the milk ran down the street into the gutter. Some farmers in rubber boots happily splashed around in the milk river.
Marc Tarabella, a socialist member of the Parliament, said the protesters had a just cause.
"Their fight is also ours," he said.
"How can we accept that some workers are working at a loss? Working to lose money? We cannot close our eyes to this human and social drama."
(Reporting Gemma La Guardia; editing Rex Merrifield)