• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
French farmers' protest
French farmers' tractor protest rolls into Paris
A convoy of tractors runs in a street of Paris on Thursday. Photo: AFP

French farmers' tractor protest rolls into Paris

The Local/AFP · 3 Sep 2015, 14:29

Published: 03 Sep 2015 14:29 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Sep 2015 14:29 GMT+02:00

Hundreds of tractors rolled into Paris on Thursday as farmers tried to clog up the capital's roads in protest at falling food prices.

Farmers on their tractors have been descending -- slowly -- on the capital from all corners of France, angry over the falling food prices which they blame on foreign competition, Russian sanctions, and a raw deal from local supermarkets and distributors.

It has taken many of them a week to reach the capital, travelling at an average speed of 35 kilometres (22 miles) an hour.

"What we're asking for today is three or four centimes more on a burger," said Xavier Beulin, head of France's leading farmers' union FNSEA, told iTele.

The first tractors to arrive came from the northwestern region of Brittany, a major producer of milk and pork.

SEE ALSO: Why the French back their striking farmers

Leading farmers' union FNSEA said they were expecting 1,733 tractors as well as dozens of cars and buses carrying up to 5,000 farmers. Police said they had counted more than 1,300 tractors on the roads into Paris.

"Milk has dropped to €320 per tonne from €340 last year, and it's still falling," said Christian Ribet, who had arrived on a tractor from Brittany.
  
"We sell at a loss even though it's supposed to be against the law."
 
Many commuters took the advice of the police and used public transport instead of their cars on Thursday morning.

"There are not many traffic jams caused by the protesters. It's limited," said a spokesman for the traffic information centre.

The protest comes after months of unrest as farmers in the dairy and meat industries become increasingly desperate in the face of plummeting food prices which they blame on foreign competition, as well as supermarkets and distributors.

"We're at our wits' end," said Sebastien Louzaouen, a member of the Young Farmers' Union, which represents agricultural workers aged 35 and under.

"If we show that we can blockade Paris, maybe it will prod the government into action. My apologies to the Parisians, but the farmers are coming."

 

Dimitri Ducher, 29, a pig farmer from Brittany told L'Express news site: "We are not giving up. I think the Parisians will support us."

Xavier Beulin, head of the FNSEA union, which is leading the protests, told France info Radio: “Our goal is to show the government that we are a very determined group.”

During the summer, protesting farmers around the country dumped manure in cities, blocked access to roads and motorways and prevented tourists from reaching the popular Mont St-Michel in northern France.

Police have advised motorists who normally travel to work by car to use public transport instead, although clearly many ignored the advice with around 60km of tail backs reported in the Paris area around at around 8am.

One of the largest convoys was on the A1 motorway to the north of the city where 400 tractors and 15 buses were heading in to Paris. The A4, A6, A10 and A13 motorways were also affected.

Story continues below…

Farmers' unions have been negotiating with the government, which unveiled an emergency package worth 600 million euros ($680 million) in tax relief and loan guarantees in July.

But they say this is woefully inadequate, as tales of farms going under -- and in the most extreme cases of suicides -- hit the news.

The agriculture minister has estimated that around 10 percent of farms in France -- approximately 22,000 sites -- are on the brink of bankruptcy with a combined debt of one billion euros.

A delegation of some 100 farmers will go to France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, Thursday to hand over to lawmakers "the demands and grievances of an agricultural and rural world that is on the brink of exploding and that expects a lot from its national representatives".

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Photo: AFP

The Brexit vote has prompted a mixed bag of reactions from the French public.

Opinion - Brexit seen from abroad
'Today it's hard not to feel ashamed to be British'
Photo: AFP

Apologies France, we may have just messed up your country too.

Brexit
French in UK: 'Brexit vote is clearly against foreigners'
The French Bookshop in London's Kensington. Photo: AFP

Spare a thought for the French people living in the UK right now. They didn't even get to vote.

Hollande: Brexit vote 'a grave test for Europe'
Photo: AFP

President Francois Hollande said on Friday that he already regrets the UK's "painful choice".

Brexit - Property
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
A house of sale in La-Faute-sur-Mer (Vendée). Photo: Frank Perry/AFP

The dream move to France may have to be put on hold or simply dropped.

Brexit
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Brits won't be forced home, of course, but are forced to live in limbo for a while. Photo: AFP

So what happens now for Brits in France? Nothing too dramatic, but a lot of uncertainty amid legal limbo.

Brexpats on Brexit
Brexit: Life for Brits in France will get more complicated
Will France still be paradise for British expats after a Brexit? Photo: Simon/FlickR

After Britain voted to leave the EU, here's a look at what an EU legal expert had to say about the possible knock on effects for expats in France.

France up next? Le Pen hails Brexit and demands vote

Friday's historic Brexit vote has sent tremors across the English Channel, where the political class had mixed reactions to the news that the UK had voted to leave the EU.

Worried after Brexit? Here's how to become French
Could it be time to become a French citizen? Photo: AFP

After the UK voted for Brexit, many Brits in France will no doubt explore the possibility of becoming a French citizen. Here's some guidance.

Brits in France left stunned after UK votes for Brexit
Photo: AFP

After the UK voted to leave the EU and the pound was sent crashing, British nationals living in France have been left stunned and concerned about the future.

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
Sport
France bans matches from being shown on cafe terraces
National
Readers' views: 'If Brexit happens I'm becoming French just to stay in EU'
Technology
Should this be the new Metro map for Paris?
2,734
jobs available