French farmers call for pursuit of fuel blockades

French farmers call for pursuit of fuel blockades

French farmers call for pursuit of fuel blockades

A total of 16 sites were blocked on Monday afternoon, France's largest farm union FNSEA (National Federation of Agricultural Holders' Unions) said on Twitter. They have joined environmentalists in their call to ban palm oil cultivation as it would lead to deforestation in southeast Asia, where most of the world's palm oil is being produced.

French farmers began a blockade of oil refineries and fuel depots on Sunday evening over plans by Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant, which have fanned farmers' anger over unfair competition.

Stephane Travert said the government will not back down on its decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil.

Total's 253,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Gonfreville refinery and nearby oil depot, its 109,000 bpd Feyzin refinery, the 220,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Donges refinery and 102,000 bpd Grandpuits refinery were among those blocked by farmers.

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.

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Total, which operates four of France's seven refineries, said the blockade was, however, hampering the distribution of products by road from four refineries and six depots.

Separately, junior minister Brune Poirson, who reports to environment minister Nicolas Hulot, said on Twitter that "France wants to stop the rise in use from one year to the other" for both palm oil and soybean oil. Many farmers welcome the president's call for fairer farmgate prices as part of a food chain review past year, but they have been irked by Macron's attempt to phase out common weedkiller glyphosate before other European Union countries.

"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".

As a result, more and more French farmers are growing suspicious of President Macron, who is backing the bloc's trade talks with other countries, such as the Mercosur group of Latin American countries.

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