French farmers to stage refinery blockade to protest palm oil imports
13 June, 2018, 17:28 | Author: Kelly Sanders
At least five sites will be blocked Sunday evening, with a total 13 sites blocked by 9 a.m. Monday, Lambert said.
French authorities last month gave 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 such as rapeseed and environmentalists who blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in south-east Asia.
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.
The protests are a sign of growing anger in France's farming communities which have so far not mobilised in large numbers against the government of President Emmanuel Macron since his election.
The minister called on angry protesters to sit for negotiations to reach "adequate solutions", insisting that the government would not back down on its decision to allow energy giant Total to import palm oil at a biofuel plant in La Mede, southeastern France. "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 said on Monday morning the blockade by farmers had not had an impact on operations.
According to Deutsche Welle, they are also anxious about emerging competition, as local biofuel producers might want to go over to a cheaper palm oil from overseas instead of buying locally produced and more expensive rapeseed oil.
"We're not against imports. but for consumers, we want the government to be consistent and apply the same rules to imports, otherwise French agriculture will disappear", said Samuel Vandaele of the Young Farmers' union outside a Total refinery southeast of Paris.
"France over-regulates", she said, adding: "We are told to raise quality and standards and to do organic and use fewer chemicals, but the prices are not there".
Hulot had said previous year France would take steps to restrict the use of palm oil in producing biofuels in order to reduce deforestation in the countries of origin, without detailing the measures.
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