French farmers block supermarket deliveries in south-west

Threat of roadblocks returns amid claims of government ‘inaction’ in lead up to Paris agricultural show

Unions say they are willing to block roads once more
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Farmers are beginning a fresh wave of protests, days before the annual Salon d’agriculture expo in Paris.

In the south-west, around the Pays-Basque and Toulouse, farmers are preventing deliveries of food and other products reaching supermarkets.

Since the beginning of the weekend they have been blocking supermarket depots with tyres, palettes and other rubbish. Major chains including Lidl, Intermarché, Super U and Netto are affected.

Farmers near Marseille have descended on the city in their tractors to camp outside the city’s Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisation.

Farming unions say that although the government made a host of promises during the last protests, there has been a lack of communication from authorities since and too much administrative red tape.

“The anger is still there,” said president of the FNSEA union Arnaud Rousseau.

“It's not because people have gone back to their farms that the subject is over,” he added.

Mr Rousseau previously stated farmers were ready to protest again if more “concrete action” regarding agreements made was not put into place before February 24.

This action would include further roadblocks and potentially another ‘march’ by farmers to Paris.

Anger bubbles before expo

Earlier this year, farmers engaged in widespread protests, blocking roads and transport links across the country.

Protests were sparked by an end to tax exemptions on special diesel fuel used for farming equipment, but also focused on the cost of living, and what they see as a lack of protection for French farmers in the face of imported products.

Whilst the end of the tax exemption was reversed, and the government promised a number of reforms, farmers are angry over the lack of speed and clarity of the changes.

“There has been no awareness of the state of distress and alarm which we find ourselves in,” said a leader of the young farmer union in Aix to FranceInfo.

The cut-off date for progression given by the farmers – February 24 – is the opening of the annual Salon d'agriculture, a major international agriculture festival held just outside Paris.

Mr Rousseau said this year’s salon “would be unlike any other” if farmers were still unsatisfied with government progress. He is due to meet with President Emmanuel Macron tomorrow evening.

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