Dairy farmers have hit the streets of Brussels to protest the lifting of European Union milk quotas amid concerns the move will flood the market with cheap surplus milk.

Belgian milk farmer Yvan Deknudt said Tuesday that "with quotas being lifted, we're really scared that production is going to explode and we won't be able to pay our costs anymore."

The quotas were introduced more than 30 years ago to try to halt massive overproduction that had resulted in so-called milk lakes and butter mountains in the EU.

They will be lifted altogether on Wednesday.

The system is being removed as world demand for milk grows so that European producers can compete with U.S. and Australian farmers targeting the burgeoning markets of countries like China and Korea.