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France: 35,000 farmers took to the streets in protest

Protests by French farmers have led to disruptions, violence and delays in produce reaching various markets.

According to the FNSEA 35,000 farmers took to the streets yesterday with the slogan; “consume French produce” and “let us work”

In Paris farmers handed out free fruit and vegetables to raise awareness of their distress, while 20 or so members of Jeunes Agriculteurs assembled in front of the Ministry of Economy to inspect trucks that supply the canteens in Bercy. According to them there was products from Morocco, Belgium, Italy, ”There was even Ukranian organic produce, not even 15% of the products were French.” said the Jeunes Agriculteurs Secretary General, Samuel Vandaele.

The President of the JA in Burgundy says they want to “show that things are not going well in the countryside. If we have to blockade the country, we will do it,” he warns.

The Russian embargo, imported fruit, vegetables and meats are taking over the shelves in French supermarkets. Also all of the paperwork they are overloaded with.

Demonstrations took place throughout the country and ranged from blocked roads, burning hay bales and the dumping of vegetables and manure. Animals, rats and wild boar, both dead and alive were used in the protests. The Mayor of Valence said the damage done there would cost €70,000 to repair.

The results of these protest were felt in other European countries such as the UK.

Peter Davis from Davis Produce said that they have had a lot of delays this week, especially with Spanish products coming up through France, "We have not had any of our own lorries hit but we have seen on the media that some Spanish courgettes and lettuce were tipped over the autoroute du Soleil on their way up to the UK."
"The French do not want to see so much cheap Spanish product hitting the market place, although to be honest the French season of courgettes has finished so I do not totally understand their logic."

He goes on to say that the French are getting excellent prices for their cauliflowers, which due to several supermarket promo's both in France and Germany, even with big quantities in the Brittany auctions this week they're making exceedingly high prices, but there are still complaining about the price of potatoes.
"France is indeed a law unto themselves, and it does show the potential problems and havoc that the farmers can create. We had a lot of lorries that missed delivery slots to the supermarkets because they were trapped behind a rolling road block of slow moving tractors on the motorway north of Lyon."
Further details of the protests
Vinci Autoroutes said that farmers in the Indre-et-Loire set up a barricade on the A10 motorway south of Tours.

In Marseilles 300 or so farmers from the South East bombarded the DREAL (Regional Directorate for Environment, Development and Housing) building with apples, as well as the CRS (riot police) who were protecting the area.

At the Saint-Avold toll booth 200 angry farmers sorted through gnocchi, frozen bread for paninis, Swiss dairy products and Spanish clementines from foreign trucks, throwing part of their cargo onto the ground.

The railway line at Carcassonne in the Aude was also blocked and no trains could run between Toulouse and Montpellier, tractors blocked entrances onto the A61 motorway. Pallets were set on fire on the railway lines between Narbonne and Carcassonne, blocking trains between Toulouse and Montpellier.