Milk mail causes stink

BRUSSELS Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:54am EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU workers are struggling with thousands of liters of sour milk from burst cartons clogging up a central mail registry after German farmers posted them to Brussels to protest against low dairy prices, officials say.

Since late June, about 10,000 liters of milk have been received at the European Commission's main sorting office, some arriving by private courier, addressed to EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

Nearly all of it comes from Germany, with a small amount posted from Luxembourg. Despite calls from Fischer Boel for the parcels to stop, the deluge of milk keeps coming.

"Unfortunately, a lot of the milk had gone off and some of the cartons had burst. So it was all a bit smelly and messy," one Commission official told Reuters.

Brussels city authorities have been collecting the milk daily from the registry after Commission security experts ordered it destroyed. Since it arrived by mail, the milk was not refrigerated and so could not be given to charity, they said.

Earlier this week, Fischer Boel suggested there might be better ways for German farmers to use their milk, like donating it to local charities, especially at a time when parts of the world are suffering food shortages.

German farmers have carried out similar acts since May, such as feeding milk to calves in public and pouring it on fields as fertilizer.

That went down badly in Brussels, where officials described the milk-flooded fields as an "irrational answer" to low milk prices. They say prices are higher than in 2007.

Farmers have blamed price falls on an EU decision in April to raise national milk production quotas by two percent to curb rising prices and meet growing demand.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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