All over France thousands of farmers have been staging protests against the plummeting price of their produce.
Tractors blocked main routes into several major cities, including Toulouse in the south west, where rush-hour traffic was reduced to a crawl. In the eastern city of Nantes, so called “snail” convoys snarled motorways surrounding the city. One protester said: “Today it’s World Food Day, if I’m not mistaken. If you don’t have farmers anymore, who is going to provide you with anything to eat? What do you think?” It was the same in Metz in north-east France. In all about 70,000 farmers are estimated to have taken part in the demonstrations. Farmers’ union leaders are demanding government aid to off-set their mounting losses. One tractor-driving demonstrator said: “We agree on getting reasonable margins, but everyone who works behind us must agree on the same. When you see those hypermarkets making 50% margins just for putting our products on their shelves… it has to stop, now.” In Paris, farmers briefly blocked the Champs Elysees with burning barricades. The main farmers’ union, the FNSEA is calling on the government to sanction a 1.4 billion euro package of tax breaks and direct aid to bail out failing rural businesses.