German dairy farmers drive tractors to visit Pope

German dairy farmers are driving tractors to visit the Pope.
German dairy farmers are driving tractors to visit the Pope.
Four German dairy farmers are driving their tractors all the way to the Vatican, where they hope to get an audience with Pope Benedict XVI to plead their case about the low price of milk.

The nine-day pilgrimage by tractor is an effort by the farmers to raise awareness of the prices they are paid - between 17 and 19 cents per liter - which they say is driving them out of business, the German newspaper der Spiegel reported.

Dairy farmers throughout Europe have been protesting low milk prices across the continent, often with the use of tractors as a way to attract attention, if not ire from other drivers on the roads. In May, hundreds of tractors blocked traffic at the seat of the European parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

The tractor tactic seems to have reached the U.S. Last month, farmers in California protesting water diversions drove several dozen tractors onto a major freeway in Central California.

A three-year drought has left many farmers in California desperate for water, but a federal fisheries agency wants to further reduce water flows to protect fish.