German Dairy Farmers End Milk Strike

Hamburg -- Thousands of German dairy farmers ended a 10-day milk delivery strike on Thursday, claiming victory in a dispute over low prices which has caused regional milk shortages.

Dairy farmers' association head Romuald Schaber said the strike was ending after several major German retailers agreed to raise or consider raising milk prices.

Schaber called on farmers to resume milk deliveries later on Thursday. He said detailed negotiations over price rises with retailers would begin.

Dairy farmers in Germany and other European Union countries including Belgium and the Netherlands have organised a series of protests at falling milk prices in the last week.

On Thursday, thousands of farmers held demonstrations outside the headquarters of supermarket chains and convoys of tractors drove in protest through several cities.

Movement in the German dispute came when discount supermarket chain Lidl said it would raise milk prices by 10 euro cents a litre.

On Thursday, a series of other supermarkets followed suit including Rewe, Norma, Plus and Edeka.

German Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer said the supermarket's statements had laid the groundwork "for a breakthrough to new, fair milk prices".

German dairy farmers want a minimum 43 euro cents per litre of milk. Prices are now between 25 and 35 cents a litre.

But analysts said the key question would be whether the largest discount supermarket chain, Aldi, which dominates the retail market, also raised prices.

Seehofer said Aldi had also signalled its willingness to negotiate. The minister has repeatedly expressed support for the farmers, saying milk prices were way below production costs.

The farmers' association said the strike would resume if dairies and supermarkets failed to implement promised price rises.