French farmers today blocked the Champs Elysees in Paris with barricades of burning tyres, hay and wooden pallets.
They are demanding government aid to offset plunging revenues for their produce. The main farmers’ union, the FNSEA is behind a series of demonstrations taking place across the country. It is calling on the government to sanction a 1.4 billion euro package of tax breaks and direct aid to struggling farms. Abundant harvests have forced down the price of grain, fruit and vegetables which has translated into a 15 to 20 per cent drop in farmers’ earnings this year. One protester said: “We’re producing at a loss. So we are here to alert the authorities and tell them to reconsider the agriculture industry. A lot of milk, meat and cereal farmers are facing a crisis.” Protesters gathered outside a high-class restaurant on the Champs Elysees where President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his 2007 election victory. Early this morning, farmers also used tractors to block rush-hour traffic headed into the southwestern city of Toulouse and the eastern city of Nancy.