The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

France:
Desperate Farmers Dump Milk

Sep 28, 2009

This article is based on a report in the September 18 issue of Lutte Ouvri re [Workers Struggle], the paper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

Dairy farmers in France must sell their milk to the large processors, businesses like Dannon. Earlier this year, the processors slashed payments to the farmers by 30%. The farmers can’t meet expenses on this new rate – much less live!

In desperation, the farmers are taking their case public with dramatic steps: they dump milk on the ground in public demonstrations. On September 18, more than 2.5 million gallons were poured out all over France. Along the borders with Belgium and Germany, farmers who face the same problem, joined in.

The dairymen are well aware that dumping good milk on the ground is very shocking. They themselves don’t want to waste what they have produced! But they have been driven to the wall. They feel they have little choice but to use the most dramatic means possible to make others aware. They have also picketed the processors’ factories, and organized free milk distributions.

No matter what actions the farmers choose, it’s necessary to be in solidarity with them. They did not start this! They did not invent the system of pushing everyone for more and more production – then lowering the prices paid, pushing many out of business – then pushing the rest for more production again.

This system destroys more and more productive capacity, by strangling thousands of farms. In France, milk producers numbered 427,000 in 1984; today, only 90,000. In Europe as a whole, 300,000 have gone under in only the past three years.

It’s a revolting aspect of the capitalist mode of production. On one end of the planet, under the pressure of agro-business, prices are collapsing so much that producers can’t survive. On the other end, the same business interests condemn millions of people to famine by speculating and driving up prices on basic items like rice, corn, or milk. For the millions who cannot pay, there will be no food – there is no “demand,” says the capitalist!

Waste on one hand and famine on the other. It’s an absurd, chaotic, inhuman system. Let us save the milk – and dump capitalism off the face of the earth, instead.