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660,000 at Paris agriculture show

Record crowds as “the biggest farm in Europe” closes its doors.

A RECORD 660,000 people visited the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris this year.

Salon president Jean-Luc Poulain said the number of visitors to the event, which showcases the best of farming production in France, was 10% up on last year.

This year the event focussed on job training and recruitment.

The show is a must for French politicians and was the backdrop for Nicolas Sarkozy’s notorious “casse-toi, pauvre con” incident last year which cemented a rapid drop in the polls.

In 2008, Sarkozy was recorded on TV snapping “get lost you stupid twat” to a farmer who refused to shake his hand because the president might “make it dirty”.

The clip became a top internet hit and preceded a drubbing for his party in France’s regional elections.

Nonetheless the president returned this year, spending two hours at the show, surrounded by young UMP supporters and security.

At one point he was presented with one of the top cows of the show named “Urbanité”.

Sarkozy used the visit to send a “message of hope” to those in the agricultural industry with a “modernisation offensive” ahead of reforms of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

The Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture Michel Barnier said that from 2010, €1.4 billion of EU aid would go towards struggling sectors of the industry – with livestock being a top priority.

Former President Jacques Chirac, a favoured figure at the show, spent three hours at the salon several days later.

Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry also spent several hours at the event.

Photo:Afp/Frederick Florin

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