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Angry farmers to stage massive ‘tractor protest’ in Paris

Fred Tanneau, AFP | Farmers drive tractors toward Paris on September 1, 2015, as they make their way to a demonstration in the French capital

Hundreds of French farmers who say falling food prices are threatening their livelihoods are en route to the French capital, where a protest involving as many as 1,000 tractors is expected to cause travel chaos on Thursday.

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Increasingly desperate farmers are demanding political reforms and additional financial help, despite a pledge from the French government this summer to deliver a 600-million-euro aid package.

Hundreds of Paris-bound tractors left Brittany, Normandy and other French departments on Tuesday, and were expected to converge on Place de la Nation on Thursday morning.

A “go-slow” operation on the Paris ring-road was expected to heavily disrupt travel in and around the city before the massive tractor gathering on the eastern side of the capital.

The farmers came under fire this summer for staging similar protests near prominent tourist destinations, including Mont Saint-Michel in lower Normandy.

Meanwhile, a delegation representing the farmers is expected at France’s National Assembly to present a list of grievances and demands to lawmakers.

The FNSEA farmers union calling for Thursday’s protest says falling prices – from dairy and meat to sugar – is pushing many of its members to bankruptcy.

Leader Xavier Beulin said his union’s goal was not to disrupt motor traffic in Paris, although he admitted there would be delays related to the protest.

“Our goal is to show the government that we are a very determined group,” Beulin told France Info radio on Wednesday morning, adding that the announced government measures were insufficient.

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