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13 June 2018, 05:31 | Edward Lowe
French farmers to stage refinery blockade
The FNSEA had called for the blockades to be maintained early on Wednesday after the talks ended, saying they "did not get enough".
A total of 13 sites were blocked from 9 a.m. Monday, Christiane Lambert, president of the FNSEA said in an interview with France Info television.
France's biggest agriculture union on Wednesday told its farmers to suspend a blockade of refineries and fuel depots that had entered its third day over palm oil imports and unfair competition, a union official said. "It concerns South American meat and Spanish wine as well as palm oil", said Damien Greffon, who leads the FRSEA farmers' union in the Paris region. "It is not by blocking refineries that we are going to find adequate solutions", Travert told French RTL radio.
Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said Monday that the government would not back down, adding that he would meet soon with unions as well as biofuels producers to discuss supplies and pricing. The farmers are strongly opposed to the importation of the product which, they say, will likely cut into the profits of locally produced rapeseed oil.
"This blockade can not be the solution", the minister told RTL radio, adding that "this blockade is illegal".
Total's initiative to import palm oil for its biofuel plant was just "the last straw", the representative added.
The French authorities last month gave oil and gas major Total permission to use palm oil as one of the feedstocks at its La Mede biofuel refinery, in southern France, infuriating farmers who grow local oilseed crops like rapeseed and environmentalists who blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in southeast Asia.
The company has said that no more than 50 percent of raw material used at the facility will be imported palm oil, and that all suppliers will be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
Besides a ban on palm oil imports, she wants the government to outlaw agriculture imports produced using fertilisers, herbicides and other products prohibited in the European Union as part of an agriculture law that will be debated in the Senate starting June 26.
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