Egg crisis: Minister to meet with angry farmers

France’s minister of agriculture is set for showdown talks with French farmers, angry over the low price of eggs, this week as he attempts to avert a repeat of last week’s egg-smashing rampage that saw half a million destroyed on roads.

Egg crisis: Minister to meet with angry farmers
French farmers have threatened further egg-smashing unless their grievances are heard. Photo: Fred Tanneau / AFP

The sight  of French farmers in Brittany smashing 100,000 eggs a day in protest over the low cost of eggs has whisked the government into action.

It might be the middle of the holiday season in France but the country’s Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll is set to hold crisis talks with farmers in Brittany to prevent the scenes of last week when they smashed half a million eggs on roads across the region.

The farmers had threatened to continue their four day rampage and even step up their militant action until their grievances were heard. 

And even though they are due to meet Le Foll on Tuesday the militant farmers have warned of further messy protests if the talks don’t lead to a satisfactory outcome.

“If there are no results, it is going to get bad next week,” one of the farmers told Le Parisien on condition of anonymity.

The group, who do not belong to a particular union, called for France's entire egg production to be reduced by 5 percent to help raise prices, and  asked the government to set up a specific area for eggs to be destroyed.

According to Yves-Marie Beaudet, head of the egg section of a union that represents poultry farmers in Brittany, producers currently get paid 75 cents ($1) for a kilogram of eggs – whereas the cost price is 95 cents.

The UGPVB union says the European Union has "15 to 20 million" excess laying hens out of a total of around 350 million.

This is not the first time in recent months French farmers have taken drastic action to try and protect their livelihoods.

In June The Local reported how Paris was turned into a big farmyard as sheep marched down the Champs Elysees in a farmers' protest over the costs of rearing animals.

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French hunter kills bear that bit him

A 70-year-old hunter killed a bear in southwest France Saturday after it attacked and seriously wounded him, local officials said.

A brown bear is pictured in the semi-wildlife animal park of Les Angles, southwestern France.
Brown bears had nearly disappeared in France until the country began a reintroduction programme, importing them from Slovenia. AFP PHOTO / RAYMOND ROIG

The female bear, who was travelling with her cubs, bit him as he was hunting in the Seix region of Ariege, a source close to the case said.

Rescued by the local gendarmerie, he was transported to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Toulouse with a wound to his leg at the level of his femoral artery, officials at the prefecture in Ariege said.

One source close to the case said he was in a serious condition.

The hunter told local officials he had been out with a group of other hunters on the trail of a boar, when the female bear, who was travelling with her cubs, attacked him.

After being wounded, the hunter shot the bear twice, killing it.

The local gendarme unit was called out to rescue him at around 3:30 pm (1430 GMT). They discovered the body of the bear a few metres from where they had found the hunter.

An investigation has been opened into the incident, the prefecture in Ariege said.

One local official told AFP on Saturday: “This is really what we feared.”

“Today, you can really see that cohabitation is complicated,” said Christine Tequi, president of the Ariege department council.

The brown bear had nearly disappeared in this part of the world when France began a programme of reintroducing them, importing them from Slovenia.

Today, there are around sixty of them in the Pyrenees range, leading to increasing tensions with local farmers, because of the threat they pose to their livestock.

In 2020, three bears were illegally killed in the Pyrenees: two of them in Spain and one in France. The French government has committed to replacing any bear killed by a man.

READ ALSO: The decades-old battle between French farmers and conservationists over bears
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