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French PM considers more help for farmers as protests persist


© Reuters. French farmers use their tractors during a go-slow operation near Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport as they protest over price pressures, taxes and green regulation, grievances shared by farmers across Europe, in Compans, near Paris, France, January 27, 20


PARIS (Reuters) -The French government may give further help to the country’s farmers, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said on Sunday, after agricultural leaders said nationwide protests to demand better pay and living conditions would continue.

Farmers in France, the European Union’s biggest agricultural producer, have complained of unfair competition from rivals in more lightly regulated countries. Over the last week, they have set up roadblocks on motorways to highlight their cause. They have also damaged property, including local government offices.

France’s protests follow similar action in other European countries, including Germany and Poland, ahead of European elections in June in which the far right – for whom farmers represent a growing constituency – are predicted to make gains.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen – President Emmanuel Macron’s closest opponent in the 2017 and 2022 elections – visited some of those demonstrating in northern France.

“We have got to get our farming out of these free trade agreements,” she said.

On Friday, the government dropped plans to gradually reduce state subsidies on agricultural diesel, and announced other steps to reduce the financial and administrative pressures farmers face. Nevertheless, many farmers want more.

“We will look at any other measures we can take regarding those aspects of unfair competition,” Attal said on Sunday.

The FNSEA, France’s biggest farmers’ union, has said it will continue protests and other unions have threatened roadblocks around Paris and the Rungis wholesale food market near the capital.