Livestock farmers in fiery protest against halloumi fiasco

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In protest at high prices and production glut, angry Cypriot farmers dumped tonnes of milk and set bales of hay alight outside the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.

Goat and sheep farmers say non-compliance with regulations on the production of halloumi cheese has left them with a glut of milk that they cannot sell or use.

They say high prices for animal feed have compounded their bleak situation.

Halloumi is traditionally made with goat and sheep milk and is listed with a Protected Designation Origin (PDO) status from the European Union.

But increasingly, cheesemakers have used more cows’ milk, considered more palatable for export markets, although outside the PDO criteria.

A prized Cypriot export, the soft rubbery cheese was given its PDO status last year.

It means halloumi cannot be produced and marketed by that name in any other country.

About 300 farmers, some driving milk tankers, arrived in a convoy at the gated compound in the capital, where they spilt milk onto the tarmac and set fire to hay placed outside the main entrance.

During their demonstration, they caused traffic chaos and disruption and pledged to escalate their protest if the government did not intervene.

A representative of the Cypriot presidency said farmers would receive compensation by the end of this month.