Thousands protest cattle slaughter
Germany will decide whether to kill 400,000 cattle
RENDSBURG, Germany -- Thousands of German farmers have protested against the planned slaughter of about 1,350 cows as a protective measure against mad cow disease.
About 6,000 farmers with 500 tractors gathered in the northern city of Rendsburg on Saturday to protest against the slaughter of 350 cows.
Several hundred farmers in the eastern town of Muecheln staged a similar protest over the planned killing of 1,000 cows.
The protest came as Germany confirmed four more cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), bringing the total to 23 since November.
The beef farmers are angry they will not get properly paid for the slaughter -- not that the animals will be killed.
They carried signs reading "Cattle murder is the death of farmers" and attempted to form a human chain to prevent the transport of the cattle destined for slaughter but were peacefully dispersed by police.
"We need more financial support and are in talks with the ministers, the European Union commission and the states," Germany's Association of Farmers head Gerd Sonnleitner told German radio. "We will not compromise on this."
Germany will decide by Monday whether to slaughter 400,000 cattle under an EU plan to fight mad cow disease, Consumer Protection and Farm Minister Renate Kuenast said on Friday.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has indicated it would be difficult for Germany to exclude itself from the EU-wide "purchase for destruction" plan under which two million cattle
are to be culled to maintain beef prices hit by the mad cow scare.
Sonnleitner said he hoped Germany would proceed with the slaughter of the 400,000 cattle, which would offer farmers near market price in compensation. Seventy percent of the cost will be funded by the EU.
Farmers get less compensation from periodic slaughter of cows in preventive mad cow measures such as in Rendsburg and Muecheln.
On Friday, Germany went beyond current EU regulations and reduced the age limit for compulsory mad cow tests on cattle to 24 months from 30 months.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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German Ministry of Agriculture
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World Health Organisation: BSE and vCJD fact sheets
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