Thousands of farmers protested outside European Union headquarters in Brussels, pelting riot police with eggs, hay and fireworks in a protest against low milk prices. Farmers from all over the EU converged with tractors, snarling traffic in the capital and on some highways leading into Brussels.

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Farmers pelt riot police with eggs outside the European Union headquarters in BrusselsEric Vidal/Reuters

The demonstration, timed to coincide with an emergency meeting of EU agriculture ministers, took place amid the smell of burning tyres and hay.

Police fired water cannons to prevent farmers breaking through barricades.

Brussels farmers protest
Belgian riot police and dairy farmers from all over Europe clash outside the EU Council headquartersYves Herman/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Eric Vidal/Reuters
Brussels farmers protest
Brussels farmers protest
Brussels farmers protest
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
brussels farmers protest
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
Brussels farmers protest
Riot police dodge fireworks that were launched towards themThierry Roge/AFP
brussels farmers protest
Protesters cover their ears as fireworks are thrown towards the policeEmmanuel Dunand/AFP
Brussels farmers protest
Brussels farmers protest
Police stand near a fire in front of the European Commission buildingJohn Thys/AFP
brussels farmers protest
John Thys/AFP
brussels farmers protest
Eric Vidal/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Eric Vidal/Reuters
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Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Yves Herman/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Yves Herman/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Yves Herman/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Yves Herman/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Yves Herman/Reuters
brussels farmers protest
Protesters shelter behind a caravan as Belgian riot police use water cannonsYves Herman/Reuters
Brussels farmers protest
Belgian riot police officers stand next to a burning caravanJacky Naegelen/Reuters

Farmers showed their anger over a drop in prices that has intensified since the opening up of the milk market earlier this year. They claimed they now have to dump their produce on the market at a loss. Quotas to limit dairy production were abolished in April and extra production has caused prices to tumble. The farmers were also complaining about cheap imports from outside the EU.

The agricultural sector has been badly hit by a Russian ban on EU food imports. Russia has banned imports of meat, dairy products and fruits and vegetables from the European Union, the United States, Norway, Canada and Australia since August 2014 in response to their sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.