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Dairy Farmers to Protest Milk Cost

Dairy farmers plan protest against price lowering, say high prices are the fault of “piggish tycoons” not simple farmers.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/24/2011, 11:12 PM / Last Update: 7/25/2011, 3:14 AM

MK Reuven Rivlin visits dairy farm
MK Reuven Rivlin visits dairy farm
Yossi Zamir

Dairy farmers and supporters from across the country are expected to protest Monday against the lowering of the price of milk. Farmers blamed “the piggery of the tycoons” for the high cost of dairy products, and insisted that farmers are not exploiting customers.

A report presented to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu late last week showed that retail industry profits in Israel are among the highest in the world. However, farmers say, most of that profit is made by a handful of business owners, not by those who work the land.
Last week farmers who spoke to Arutz Sheva complained, “It always repeats itself: the farmer sweats and spills his blood and gets a pittance in return while other hands make all the profits. We take the risk and the manufacturers of dairy products are the ones who make the greatest profit. If they want to reduce the dairy prices they should do so by setting price steps, not by hurting us.”

Farmers claim that the price of raw milk is the only factor in the price of milk that is under government control, and that the price goes up 50 percent after it leaves the dairy.

The dairy protest that led to the farmers' protest began in late June with a simple Facebook complaint over hikes in the prices of many dairy products, led to a consumer boycott that succeeded in forcing companies to lower the price of cottage cheese, and from there snowballed to a Knesset debate and finally, an official inquiry into dairy prices in Israel.

The inquiry is being led in part by Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon, who has spoken of the need to balance farmers' income with consumers' needs. “It is our duty to preserve the agriculture industry in the State of Israel... [but] there is no reason that children in the State of Israel should see dairy products as luxuries,” he said last month.

Simhon has declared plans to reduce the price of dairy products by 10%. His statement worried farmers, who expressed concern for their income. According to the Knesset agriculture lobby, farmers typically do not earn more than NIS 10,000 a month.

Demonstrations will be held Monday at the Kaplan-Begin Way intersection, next to the Azrieli Center and across from the government campus in Tel Aviv, at Sa'ad Junction near Gaza and at the Machanayim Junction in the north.