Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 22:48:44 -0800 (PST)
Dairy farmers, porn star and a cow picket Italian Senate
http://www.nando.net, 16 December 1997
ROME (December 16, 1997 4:42 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - Some 200 dairy farmers, a cow named Ercolina and a nude porn star picketed Italy's Senate Tuesday amid continued protests of milk fines imposed by the European Union.
"I'm here to support the rights of the milk producers," said porn star Jessica Massaro, who wore only a cowbell around her neck and leather boots -- but her body was painted with black and white spots like a Fresian cow.
She was accompanied by about 200 dairy farmers and their mascot Ercolina, who handed out barbecued sausages and wine to passersby as part of the latest protest in the center of Rome.
A convoy of some 87 tractors that made its way from northern Italy over the weekend remained blocked at the small town of Torrimpietra on the outskirts of the Italian capital.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Agriculture Minister Michele Pinto were to meet dairy farmer representatives at a special meeting Wednesday morning, the cabinet press office said in a statement.
"We need to repair past mistakes and help the farmers move into the future," Prodi said in a letter to the farmers.
Dairy farmers have staged marches and set up road blocks over the past month in protest EU milk fines, saying the government miscalculated the quota size and should thus foot the bill.
Last month, the government approved some $476 million worth of state-backed compensation for the dairy farmers.
The European Commission said last week, however, it would take legal action against the Italian government for failing to collect the fines.
In the past week, olive oil producers and rice growers have joined ranks with the dairy farmers. Olive oil producers threw up road blocks across southern Italy last week against EU quotas, while north Italian rice growers said Tuesday they were planning to picket commodity markets nationwide to protest cheap imports.