Dairy farmers in northern and western France have begun an indefinite "milk strike" in protest at the low prices paid to producers and at market deregulation.
 
Action will consist of tipping milk into ditches and offering free supplies to the public.
 
Pascal Massol, the president of the Association of Independent Milk Producers (APLI), called on French and European dairy farmers to no longer fill their tanks and renounce supplying major processors such as Entremont Alliance, Lactalis and Danone.
 
However, the influential French farmers federation, the FNSEA, which stands by the price agreement signed with the dairy industry in June, has called the strike an "absurdity" and predicts it will attract little support.
 
Speaking on French radio, FNSEA president Jean-Michel Lemétayer said: "Consumers will not understand us throwing away our milk, even if it is designed to add greater weight to our protest."
 
"This has been billed as a European strike but it's become apparent very quickly that it is far from being one," he added, alluding to dairy farmers in northern Europe who support the liberalisation of markets.