French farmers have blocked entry to Lyon, France’s second biggest conurbation, in a row over low prices and tough competition within the agriculture industry.
“(Manuel) Valls, we’re waiting for you,” was the message to the French Prime Minister, spelt out in tyres on a deserted stretch of the A6 motorway. This, despite the offer of a 600-million euro government aid plan in response to the farmers’ complaints.
The package details 24 measures, including tax exemptions and delayed payments. Aimed at easing cash flow for farmers the proposals would cost the French treasury up to 100-million euros.
Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll outlined the measures after saying about ten percent of livestock farmers were on the brink of bankruptcy.
Xavier Beulin, President of FNSEA union, spoke to the press:
“I think action will continue to be taken over the next two or three days, because some members haven’t yet taken action, but they want to. They also need to express their anger. And then we’ll work with them to plan an end to the protests. It’s clear our aim is not to annoy people going on holiday with their families.”
The blockades come at a tricky time for France, which is preparing for a major holiday weekend and a busy time on the roads.
Protests and blockades began in the north-west of the country and have since spread to a number of other areas nationwide.
The FNSEA, which is France’s main farmers’ union, has acknowledged the government’s proposals are a step in
the right direction and road blocks have started to be lifted in some parts of the country.