Farmers block oil refineries and depots across France
13 June, 2018, 23:12 | Author: Sherry Houston
"It is really an alarm call that 3,000 farmers on 18 blocked sites have sent out to say, please listen to us and take up this message at a European level", FNSEA President Christiane Lambert said after meeting Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert.
Farmers are concerned about the impact on locally produced oilseed crops, further souring relations between the EU's biggest agricultural sector and the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
"We will commit at European Union level to cap, to freeze. based on the total 2017 volumes, the volume of imported (palm) oil to reduce it gradually in the coming years", French junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Europe 1 radio.
Dozens of French farmers blocked access to 13 refineries across the country on Monday to protest plans to import palm oil for use in biofuels, a move they denounce as unfair competition which jeopardises their livelihood.
"I want Total and biofuel producers to reach an agreement on a base price and a contract that will benefit rapeseed producers", Travert told RTL radio. "Do not rush into oil stations, it is often that which creates the shortage".
The Vatry fuel depot in the Marne region of northeastern France was the first to be blocked on Sunday evening as about 100 farmers set up barricades with tractors and mounds of rubble, a spokesman from the FNSEA farmers union told Reuters.
Total's initiative to import palm oil for its biofuel plant was just "the last straw", the representative added.
The company has said that no more than 50 percent of raw material used at the facility will be imported palm oil, and that all suppliers will be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
The issue has caused friction with Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's two largest palm oil producers, with Malaysian officials warning of trade repercussions that could affect a potential deal to buy French fighter jets.
Lambert had earlier called farmers to maintain their blockades until at least the morning.
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