French farmers block roads to protest falling food prices
Farmers in France have used tractors and other vehicles to block roads from Germany and Spain, stopping foreign products from entering the country in protest against falling food prices.
Farmers in the northeastern Alsace region of France closed off six routes from Germany on Sunday night and stopped trucks carrying agricultural goods.
“We let the cars and everything that comes from France pass,” Franck Sander, the head of the local branch of the National Federation of Agricultural Holders’ Unions (FNSEA) told AFP, adding that over 1,000 agricultural workers attended the protest.
A dozen trucks were forced to turn back at the border due to the blockage, according to FNSEA officials.
Meanwhile, a number of trucks from Spain were ransacked on a highway in the Haute-Garonne region in southwestern France.
The protesting farmers also used some 10 tractors to block the A645 motorway near the Spanish border, causing traffic jams, with lines of cars reaching up to four kilometers (2.5 miles) in length, Guillaume Darrouy, the secretary general of the Young Farmers of Haute-Garonne union, said.
In recent days, farmers have blocked cities, roads and tourist sites across France to show their anger at falling food prices.
The angry farmers blame cheap products from foreign countries for the current crisis, which has brought them to the brink of bankruptcy.
Last Wednesday, the government unveiled an emergency package worth 600 million euros (660 million dollars) in tax relief, but the aid has failed to halt the turmoil.
A host of factors, such as changing dietary habits, diminishing Chinese demand, and a Russian ban on Western products in retaliation for the West’s anti-Russia sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine, has lowered prices for staples like beef, pork and milk.
Paris estimates that about 10 percent – or some 22,000 – of French farms are on the verge of bankruptcy, with a combined debt of one billion euros (1.1 billion dollars).