French Farmers Block Imports at Borders With Germany, Spain

French farmers set up check points at the German and Spanish borders, blocking food trucks carrying imports as protests against low meat and dairy prices continued after a week of road blocks and protests around the country.

In the Alsace region bordering Germany, farmers searched 200 and 300 trucks since Sunday night, Franck Sander, head of the local FDSEA farm lobby, told Agence France-Presse. A truck carrying cheese from Slovakia with the Babybel brand of French dairy producer Fromageries Bel SA was turned away, he said.

France is Europe’s biggest beef producer and second-biggest milk supplier, yet its cattle farmers earned less than average farm income in the past five years, government data show. Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll has said as many as 10 percent of French livestock farmers are in financial difficulty.

“Prices have to go up, and that’s something also that the consumer has to understand,” President Francois Hollande said on a visit to the Var region on Monday. “The farmers have to know that, protests or not, we’re by their side.”

The farmers in Alsace said imports to France are market distorting due to lower salaries and fewer environmental constraints abroad. But France also exports its food products to EU countries, Le Foll said on France Inter radio today.

In Spain, farm union UPA threatened to boycott French dairy companies, which it says pay Spanish farmers about 22 cents for a liter of milk, while agreeing to lift prices in their domestic market to about 34 cents. The lobby also denounced French farmers emptying trucks of Spanish meat last week.

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