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Farmers end blockade after government vows response

Video by Catherine NICHOLSON


Latest update : 2009-06-14

French farmers protesting against margins earned by supermarkets on common food products have said they would stop blockading retail warehouses after the government promised a series of measures to address the issue.

Reuters - French farmers protesting against the margins earned by supermarkets on everyday food products said they would stop blockading retail warehouses on Saturday after the government promised to look into their grievances.

Farmers had blocked access to around 40 of the some 60 distribution centres supplying French supermarkets as part of a 48-hour demonstration. About 20 remained blocked on Saturday.

Agriculture minister Michel Barnier and Luc Chatel, the minister for industry and consumer affairs, announced a series of measures “to guarantee transparency in the setting of prices for food products and reinforce control of the application of rules in commercial relations”.

“The government is fully aware of the level of consternation and is well aware of the current dissatisfaction,” Barnier told a news conference after meeting farmers’ unions.

An examination of prices and margins will be accelerated. The results of a study of prices and margins for dairy products will be published quickly, a government statement said.

The unions said the blockades would now not be extended beyond Saturday evening.

“What has emerged is that our action is effective,” Dominique Barrau, general secretary of France’s main FNSEA farmers union, told Reuters. “So, we’ll lift (the blockades) at the end of the 48 hours.”

The action against retailers comes on top of a month-long dispute over milk prices that has seen farmers block dairies and demonstrate in front of the offices of big dairy manufacturers.

Despite a government-brokered deal earlier this month on a benchmark price for milk this year, dairy producers have continued their protests locally.

The government agreed to hold another meeting between farmers, retail representatives and economy minister Christine Lagarde on Wednesday.

Date created : 2009-06-14