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france 24 France

French pork farmers ask govt to save their bacon

© FRANCE 24 | French pig farmers say they cannot compete with their European rivals

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-08-18

It has been a summer of discontent for French farmers, with pork producers this week being the latest focus of attention after months of protests and blockades over low prices.

For over a week, pig farmers have been demonstrating against the French authority that sets the price of pork.

The farmers say that the set price is too low, the charges they are forced to pay are too high and that French rules and pressure from environmentalists prevent them from increasing the size of their farms in line with their European competitors.

Intensive pig farming in France is far from the norm. Most farms here are small, family-run affairs, with an average of 200 animals. In Denmark, that average is 560 and in Spain it reaches 1,200.

Michel de Saint-Jan in Brittany is one pig farmer who is keen to expand his operation, but is limited to keeping just 120 pigs on a 60-hectare farm.

"We have a maximum amount that we're allowed and I don't have the right to exceed it,” he told FRANCE 24. “There's lots of paperwork whenever we want to make any changes, we have to ask and hope it won't change our standards too much."

If Michel wants more pigs then, under French rules, he's also going to need a lot more land, something he doesn’t have.

This lack of land and the administrative headaches are among a number of reasons French pig farms normally stay small.

“We have to move towards increasing the number of pigs because there aren't enough farmers to increase our output otherwise,” said Guillaume Roué, president of the Inaporc national organisation that represents French pig farmers.

“But we won't go up to the scale of the Americans, the Brazilians or the Spanish -- that's just not compatible with French culture.”

Click on the video player above to see the full report.

Date created : 2015-08-18

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