French farmers caused gridlock around the city of Caen in Normandy as they barred roads to protest low prices for meat and milk, extending weeks of unrest that have included blockades of slaughterhouses, dairies and supermarkets.
The farmers are demanding that Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll come to meet them before they lift their blockades, broadcaster France 3 reported Monday. Between 22,000 and 25,000 French livestock farmers, about 10 percent of the total, are close to bankruptcy, Le Foll said in an interview with daily newspaper Le Parisien on Friday.
Farmers have been hit by a triple whammy of falling global dairy prices, a drop in European pork prices and lower payments for beef, according to the minister. France’s livestock farmers also face higher costs and a more fragmented industry structure than some European rivals, said Gautier Le Molgat, an analyst at Paris-based farm adviser Agritel.
“Prices are lower than usual, and that adds to the industry malaise,” Le Molgat said. “The real concern is how we can keep prices in France sufficiently profitable.”
Le Foll on July 1 asked the state mediator for agricultural trade relations to investigate pork and beef prices after the meat industry failed to meet goals for higher payments to farmers. The mediator is set to report on Wednesday.
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