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Milk rebels forced back in line

Forty dairy farmers from the Flachgau and the Tennengau region known as the "milk rebels", who joined and supported the "Freien Milch Austria" in a bid to break the stranglehold of commercial dairies milk price in the country have now given up the project and are reluctantly returning to the "Alpenmilch" dairy.

"Freie Milch Austria" is a GmbH based in Bad Leonfelden in Upper Austria that takes unpasteurised milk from all over Austria in bids to give farmers more freedom from the dairies.

Austria is one of the only countries were smaller producers have been able to survive after the introduction of large, conglomerate companies. In other European countries, smaller farms have been swallowed up and destroyed.

The milk that has been approved by the farmers is sold separately in supermarkets and is slightly more expensive than the milk from commercial dairies to make up for the production costs that have been the bane of many small dairy farmers.

But the project that was launched with such entusiasm now seems to be little more than a dream and is currently far from reality. The larger dairies are putting a lot of pressure on the small, alpine producers, and many of them have been forced to get back in line.

Forty of the farmers have now given up supplying "Freien Milch Austria" and are returning to Alpenmilch after three years of attempting to free themselves from the commercial dairy.

The new contract with Alpenmilch will pay the farmers just 26 Cent pro Litre. With such a small income, keeping up with the many procedures required by the government will be hard for many farmers.

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