Hit by a significant loss in earnings, French pig farmers blaming the influx of foreign meat have taken matters into their own hands this week and begun inspecting trucks transporting meat in the west of the country.
“We are checking every refrigerated truck to see if it contains French meat, if it carries the ‘viande porcine française’ label (‘French porcine meat’), or if it’s foreign meat,” Nathalie Marchand, from the chamber of agriculture in Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany, told French daily 20 Minutes.
“If it’s French meat but without an official stamp, we will round up all the trucks and bring them to the local authorities. If it’s foreign meat, then it will have an entirely different destination,” she said, adding that they will no longer stand for foreign pork coming into the country if it was not subject to the same obligations as French meat.
On Monday night, on a stretch of the A81 motorway between Laval and Rennes, around 50 pig farmers formed a road block to stop and inspect passing trucks. Some of the activists wore t-shirts emblazoned with “Police de la viande,” or “Meat Police", French daily Le Monde reported.
Leading a similar operation in the Cotes-d’Armor department, head of the local farmers’ union, FDSEA, Didier Lucas, said: “We will stop and check every truck, and if we find any foreign pork, we will empty it out in front of local authority [buildings].”
The complaint of French pig breeders is, in essence, that they aren’t being paid enough by the pork industry, and blame the influx of foreign meat.
“We’re down by around 30 cents per kilo of pig,” Lucas told Le Monde.
“Between the end of October and start of April, pig farms lost on average €26,000, and since the start of April, we’re losing on average €10,000 a month. It’s unbearable,” he added.
France’s minister for agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll, reacted to the pig farmers actions on Monday by vowing he would “force” those in the pork industry to pay higher prices to the breeders.
“I will organize this and force everyone in the [pork] industry to see to it that they increase prices.” Le Foll told France Info radio on Tuesday.