Wednesday 26 October 2016

French farmers end road blocks - but warn of more to come

Published 23/07/2015 | 12:32

Farmers use their tractors to block the main Paris to Lyon road in France (AP)
Farmers use their tractors to block the main Paris to Lyon road in France (AP)

Angry French farmers finally relented after a day of protesting against low milk and meat prices by blocking roads to Mont Saint-Michel and the Alps - but they warned more action is on the horizon.

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The farmers used tyres, tractors and tree trunks to block roads across the country, a day before many French people will take to the roads to start their summer holidays.

Mont Saint-Michel, in Normandy, is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Tourists were forced to park their cars along the road and walk for several miles to the famous island.

The farmers also blocked three major roads for eight hours around the eastern city of Lyon, a gateway to the Alps and the south of France. Traffic had backed up 15 miles by midday.

Some roads in western France, a region with many milk and pork farms, were also jammed.

Farmers say their profits are being chipped away by cheap imports and pressure from shops. Low prices have put about 10% of France's livestock farms on the verge of bankruptcy, according to the government.

Farmers were angry after the French government offered to back loans for farmers and delay tax payments as part of a 600 million euro (£384 million) agricultural plan but it did not give any direct financial aid in order not to break EU market rules.

Xavier Beulin, president of FNSEA, the main farmers' union, warned of further possible protests "in the next two to three days".

But he said he is willing to immediately work with the government on "long-term and mid-term solutions".

President Francois Hollande met with farmers and union officials in Dijon today.

"We want supermarket chains to make the necessary effort to pay the farmers," Mr Hollande said.

Press Association

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