French farmers block highway in protests over food prices

French farmers blocked a major highway to Paris on Friday, in a nationwide protest against low food prices and high bureaucracy.

As part of a nationwide movement against low food prices and high bureaucracy, French farmers staged roadblocks on one of the main highways connecting Paris, Lille and Belgium on Friday.

The farmers demand more support from Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s government, which they blame for neglecting their plight. “We want to show our anger and our complaints in Paris,” farmer Matteo Legrand said.

The FNSEA union of the Paris region intends to block 11 major roads around the capital, including the A6, A10 and A13 highways. Attal’s office announced that he would deliver a speech on the farmers’ issues at around 1500 GMT in a mountain village near the Spanish border, about 800 km (500 miles) away from Paris.

In an attempt to calm the situation, the finance and agriculture ministers met with food industry representatives on Friday to discuss fair prices for products – a ‘top priority’ for farmers who feel harmed by the government’s policy of reducing consumer prices.

“The main problem is the farmers’ income,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said after the meeting, promising to “reinforce” the application of a law designed to ensure fair prices for farmers.

Le Maire had previously spent months urging food giants like Carrefour and Danone to lower their prices following a period of high inflation, which angered the farmers. On Friday, he pledged to be “relentless” with the food companies and supermarkets to guarantee proper financial remuneration for the farmers.

Many farmers in France, the largest agricultural producer in the European Union, say they are under growing pressure from retailers to lower their prices and that this endangers their livelihoods. They also complain about a government tax on tractor fuel, cheap foreign food imports, water access, excessive bureaucracy and environmental regulations.

France has seen two weeks of protests in rural areas, while other European countries such as Germany and Poland have also experienced demonstrations by farmers unhappy with their living conditions.

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