#MILKTOO: Dairy farmers protest government

Dozens of dairy farmers post early morning hour videos telling of great difficulty in their work and their meager recompense.

Mordechai Sones ,

Oded Shaham
Oded Shaham
Yossi Balat

Dozens of dairy farmers uploaded short clips from the early hours of the morning, telling of the great difficulty in their work and their meager recompense: 19 agorot (five US cents) per liter of milk.

Some of them complain that government ministers Moshe Kahlon and Uri Ariel see the salary they, the dairy farmers, receive as the reason for the high cost of living and the rise in the prices of dairy products in Israel.

"Good morning, I get up at two-thirty in the morning because the milking starts at three, all for a few agorot, like 19 agurot per liter," says dairy farmer Yuval from Kfar Vitkin. Another dairy farmer adds: "I'm also a dairy farmer; we work for 19 agorot per liter of milk. A bottle of water in a supermarket costs more than a liter of milk."

Farmer Tal Zamir of Moshav Yogev says in his video, "I'm a dairy farmer, I get up at five in the morning, earn 19 agorot per liter, and now the State wants to destroy my farm."

"Sometimes I ask myself who's the real enemy of the State of Israel; is the enemy Hamas in Gaza burning fields in the south, or is the enemy us, the farmers, who the government blames for the high cost of living," wonders Arnon Oshri of Kfar Vitkin.

#Milktoo was launched as part of hundreds of dairy farmers' struggle for survival over four months ago against Finance and Agriculture Ministry intention to pass a series of decisions that will harm the already low level of profitability and push hundreds of dairy farms into bankruptcy.

"Good morning to the Finance Minister and the finance ciphers," says Dairy Workers' Committee Chairman Oded Shoham from Moshav Shadmot Dvora. "I'm 41 years old, married with a girl. I wanted to tell you about an amazing finding that we discovered, and that is that the high cost of living is not because of a dairy farmer who gets up every morning at five to milk the cows, but is because of cars, housing, fuel, and the direct and indirect taxes that you impose on the nation of Israel.

"We work for our livelihood, and all we want is to make a decent living. I also want to tell you that my wage for a liter of milk is 19 agorot. This means that the high cost of living is due to flawed mediation and government capital concentrations, not because of dairy farms. I'm a proud and efficient dairy farmer who earns 19 agorot per liter of milk."

The dairy farmers' committee recently petitioned the court to disqualify the dairy agreement signed between the Farmers' Union and the Finance Ministry, claiming the agreement was signed in the name of the dairy farmers, but in complete contradiction to their opinion.

According to the Farmers' Committee position, which already numbers 200 dairy farmers from the moshavim and the kibbutzim, the Agriculture Ministry's legal advisor surprisingly joined the Attorney General in revealing how treasury officials threatened the dairy farmers to sign an agreement that effectively eliminates the dairy industry in Israel.

The District Court hearing the petition imposed a stay order on implementing the agreement pending a hearing on the petition filed by the dairy farmers, which will be examined at the beginning of December.