French agricultural unions call for end to protests as PM unveils new measures | News

Gabriel Attal promised a “future” for the French agricultural sector and solutions to fight bans and fraud.

France’s main agricultural unions have called for an end to national barriers on wages, taxes and regulations, after securing promises of government aid.

French farmers blocked roads across the country for two weeks demonstrations which spread across Europe last week.

The farmers were protesting low incomes, regulations and what they call unfair competition from abroad.

Arnaud Rousseau, president of the largest rural union FNSEA, and the president of Young Farmers (JA), Arnaud Gaillot, held a press conference to announce the suspension of action on Thursday.

The announcement follows promises of liquidity, easing regulations and protection against unfair competition from Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, the second wave of concessions from the government in a week.

Gabriel Attal’s speech comes as convoys carrying hundreds of farmers cause chaos outside the European Union headquarters, demanding that leaders at an EU summit provide relief from rising prices and bureaucracy.

“The question is currently being asked throughout Europe: is there a future for our agriculture? Of course the answer is yes,” Attal said.

Farmers drive their tractors during a demonstration
A farmer stands on top of a tractor to take a photo during a protest organized by local branches of the main farmers’ unions (Frederick Florin/AFP)

Attal announced that France was immediately banning imports of fruits and vegetables from third countries treated with Thiacloprid, an insecticide currently banned in the bloc.

He also said that no pesticides authorized elsewhere in the EU would be banned in France. This declaration responded to a request from French farmers who denounced stricter regulations in France on pesticide products than in neighboring countries.

“Tangible progress”

France will propose the creation of a “European control force” to fight fraud, he said, particularly in terms of health regulations, and fight against the importation of food products which do not respect health standards. European and French.

Attal also reiterated that France would remain opposed to the EU signing a free trade deal with trade group Mercosur.

“There is no question of France accepting this treaty,” he declared.

The government’s objectives with the recently announced measures are to “restore value to food” and “to increase farmers’ income, to protect them against unfair competition and to simplify their daily lives”, he said. he explains.

Attal also announced 150 million euros ($162 million) in aid for breeders and a reduction in taxes on farms passed down from older to younger generations.

Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau, speaking after Attal, announced a two billion euro ($2.16 billion) program to finance loans to those setting up as farmers.

The French government has announced it will impose fines on food industry groups and supermarkets that fail to comply with a 2018 law intended to pay a fair price to farmers. The fine can reach up to 2 percent of the turnover of companies that do not comply.

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