Farmers warn of more egg-smashing rampages

Angry French poultry farmers laid down an ultimatum to the government on Tuesday. If the price of eggs does not rise in two weeks, they will resume a rampage that saw them smash 200,000 eggs in a matter of days earlier this month.

Farmers warn of more egg-smashing rampages
Farmers are threatening a repeat of an egg smashing rampage that saw 200,000 broken in a matter of days. Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

French poultry farmers who last week smashed 200,000 eggs in protests over low prices on Tuesday threatened repeat action following talks with the country's agriculture minister.

Last week's protests were staged by a collective of militant farmers operating outside the structure of the main unions in the sector.

A spokesman for the group, who would only be identified by his first name Sebastien, said: “Prices have to go up. We will allow 15 days for that to happen, otherwise action will resume, we don't know yet what form that will take.”

Yves-Marie Beaudet, the head of the eggs section of the UGPVB, a union which accounts for 40 percent of French egg production but took no part in last week's smashing, said his members would support efforts to boost prices by cutting back production.

Beaudet welcomed a commitment by Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll to seek new export markets for French eggs as part of attempts to rebalance supply and demand and push domestic prices up from levels that producers say are unsustainable.

Farmers have been hit by rising feed prices and a new European Union directive that has forced them to invest in bigger pens for their laying hens. According to the UGPVB, production costs in France are now running at 95 cents per kilogram of eggs, 20 cents more than current wholesale prices.

Last week farmers in Britanny smashed 100,000 eggs on consecutive days in protests designed to highlight their plight.

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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.

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