France, the EU's biggest agricultural economy, has faced weeks-long protests by farmers over depressed prices for their products, which is partly due to the Russian embargo on EU food imports.

On 14 March, it was the turn of Belgian farmers from the French-speaking region of Wallonia, who organised an awareness campaign on the sidelines of an EU agriculture meeting in Brussels. The farmers put up animal pens and filled them with cows and pigs, rode tractors down the street and sprayed milk at buildings. They also distributed free milk and sandwiches to passers-by, hoping to get support for their campaign for more market regulations.

Farmer protest
A dairy farmer sprays milk outside the EU headquarters during a demonstration in Brussels, BelgiumFrancois Lenoir/ Reuters
Farmer protest
People look at cows displayed in an enclosure during a farmer's demonstration to protest against falling food prices in BrusselsJohn Thys/ AFP
Farmers protest
Pigs are pictured outside the European Union agriculture ministers' meeting as farmers protest against low selling prices in central Brussels, BelgiumYves Herman/ Reuters
Farmer protest
A dairy farmer sprays milk outside the MR political party during a demonstration in Brussels, BelgiumYves Herman/ Reuters

Speaking before the agriculture meeting, which was held at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll warned the situation could deteriorate if nothing is done at an EU level to tackle overproduction.

"Today, I hope that things will move, simply move toward taking a common position that there is currently overproduction in many agricultural sectors. If we don't take stock of it, if we cannot coordinate and consult each other better at the EU level, we will head toward an even more critical situation than the one we've experienced," Le Foll told reporters. He added that France was ready to 'fight until the end' to obtain solutions.

French farmers say the loss of the Russian market has compounded their problems in the face of cheaper supplies from countries such as Germany and Spain, and as the EU liberalises its farm policy through steps like abolition of milk output quotas.

Farmer protest
Farmers and dairy farmers take part in a demonstration in BrusselsYves Herman/ Reuters
Farmers protest
A Belgian farmer leads his cow outside the European Union agriculture ministers meeting as farmers protest against low selling prices in central BrusselsFrancois Lenoir/ Reuters
Farmer protest
France's Minister for Agriculture Stephane Le Foll speaks to the press upon his arrival for an Agriculture Council meeting at the EU Headquarters in BrusselsJohn Thys/ AFP
Farmer protest
A farmer sprays milk on the frontage of the headquarter of the belgian right wing liberal party Mouvement Reformateur (MR) during a demonstration in BrusselsJohn Thys/ AFP
Farmer protest
People look at pigs displayed in an enclosure during a farmer's demonstration to protest against falling food prices in BrusselsJohn Thys/ AFP
Farmer protest
A man pushes two babies in a stroller near cows outside the European Union agriculture ministers meeting as farmers protest against low selling prices in central BrusselsFrancois Lenoir/ Reuters
Farmer protest
A banner put up by farmers, which reads 'we fill your plates and shape you countryside' beside the European Union Commission to protest against falling food prices in BrusselsJohn Thys/ AFP
Farmer protest
European farmers take part in a demonstration with signs attached to their tractors reading "SOS, I am a farmer. I am dying"Yves Herman/ Reuters
Farmer protest
A dairy farmer sprays milk outside the MR political party during a demonstration in Brussels, BelgiumYves Herman/ Reuters
Farmers protest
A farmers argues with a plainclothes policeman during a demonstration outside the EU headquarters in BrusselsFrancois Lenoir/ Reuters
Farmer protest
A farmer sprays milk on the frontage of the headquarter of the belgian right wing liberal party Mouvement Reformateur (MR) during a demonstration in BrusselsJohn Thys/ AFP
Farmer protest
Riot police face off with farmers during a demonstration near the EU headquarters Brussels, BelgiumYves Herman/ Reuters