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French farmers’ wine dumping sparks anger in Spain

Spain has called on Paris to get control of its farmers after two trucks carrying wine were halted at the border, before the contents were emptied onto the road.

French farmers' wine dumping sparks anger in Spain
All that nice Rioja down the drain. Archive photo: AFP

Spain has condemned attacks by French farmers against Spanish trucks carrying wine as part of a protest against falling food prices, saying the government had complained to Paris and the European Union.

In the latest of a string of angry protests, a group of French farmers stopped two Spanish tucks on Monday at the toll gate of Le Boulou in southern France near the border.

The farmers then dumped the wine the vehicles were transporting, according to the Spanish Federation of Freight Transportation (CETM).

The assault took place in front of television crews and French police who “allowed the demonstrators to act with impunity”, the CETM, which represents truckers, said in a statement.

Spain's foreign ministry said it “condemned the aggression suffered on Monday near Le Boulou by several trucks which were transporting Spanish wine”, adding that it informed the European Commission of what had happened.

“These events, which unfortunately occur regularly, are a cause of concern for the Spanish government, as they represent a flagrant violation of several basic principles of the European Union, such as the free circulation of goods between member states,” the statement added.

“Spain has already officially protested to French authorities, and urged them to adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the total security and free circulation of people and goods.”

French farmers have been furious over falling food prices, which they blame on foreign competition as well as supermarkets and distributors.

The farmers involved in Monday's protest complained that Spanish bulk wine sells for just €30-40 ($34-45) per hundred litres while French bulk wine costs 70-80 euros, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on its website.

In July farmers stopped hundreds of lorries bringing produce from Germany, setting up checkpoints with around 1,000 people and tractors, while similar protests took place near the Spanish border.

Farmers ransacked trucks from Spain on a highway in the southwestern Haute-Garonne region, threatening to unload any meat or fruit bound for the French market, prompting another complaint from Spain's foreign ministry.

French farmers estimate that around 10 percent of farms in France – approximately 22,000 operations – are on the brink of bankruptcy with a combined debt of €1billion ($1.14 billion).

Dumping Spanish wine is not a new tactic by protesting farmers as this 2006 photo below shows.

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FARMING

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
READ ALSO: What are the most dangerous animals in France?

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