World Economy

French Farmers Lift Lyon Blockade But Crisis Continues

French Farmers Lift Lyon Blockade But Crisis ContinuesFrench Farmers Lift Lyon Blockade But Crisis Continues

French farmers have begun removing hundreds of tractors from motorways around France’s second city Lyon, but the row over meat and dairy prices shows no sign of ending. Motorways were blocked, as was a major road tunnel in the heart of Lyon.

President Francois Hollande met farmers’ leaders in Dijon in an attempt to solve the crisis, BBC reported.

The government has presented a €600 million ($657 million) plan to respond to the farmers, many of whom are said to be near bankruptcy.

The row has brought chaos to roads in many areas of France and has threatened to hit families preparing to take to the roads on one of the main holiday getaway weekends.


After his meeting in Dijon, Hollande went on French TV to call for supermarkets, food processing companies and abattoirs to help increase meat and dairy prices for farmers.

“We have to act on the subject at hand–the price of milk as well as meat. And I’m thinking of the whole industry: pork, beef and others too.”

Although farmers lifted a blockade of routes into the northern city of Caen, FNSEA union leader Xavier Beulin said there would be more in the coming two to three days.

“I call for people to remain level-headed on the ground... but this anger must be allowed to express itself,” he told French radio.

Beulin was due to meet farmers in Lyon, and protesters said they would unblock the A6, A7, A42 and A46 motorways during the late afternoon.

On one deserted stretch of the A6, farmers had spelt out the phrase “Valls, we’re waiting for you”, a message to the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Farmers have been hit by lower meat consumption, reduced demand from China as well as a Russian ban on EU food imports.

The Socialist government estimates that as many as 10% of French farmers could be facing bankruptcy.

Last month ministers urged the food industry to increase the prices it paid to farmers. However, pork producers are still being paid below the target price of €1.40 per kilo, while dairy farmers complain they are being paid €300 per ton of milk and need at least €340 to break even.

The government came up with a several-point plan on Wednesday to ease the farming crisis, including:

*€100m of taxes to be annulled

*Further €500m to be set aside to allow farmers more time to pay taxes and other debts

*Fund to help farmers restructure their debts to be increased from €8m to €50m

*Public investment bank to guarantee up to €500m in loans to farming sector in further attempt to alleviate cash crisis.