French farmers suspend fuel blockades after government gesture

Postado Junho 13, 2018

"It is not by blocking refineries that we are going to find adequate solutions", Travert told French RTL radio.

"This blockade can not be the solution to the discussion that we are going to have".

French farmers blocked access to oil depots and refineries using tonnes of onions, wood and rubble as part of a three-day protest against plans to allow Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant. "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. "We are disappointed given farmers' involvement", Christiane Lambert, head of the FNSEA which organised the protests, said after meeting with Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert.

France's main farmers' union earlier on Wednesday called on members to end the blockade, linked to anger over competition from agricultural imports including palm oil used for biofuel. "Do not rush into oil stations, it is often that which creates the shortage".

According to the farmers, these measures show the "government incoherence", which encourages the union to improve its performance while approving global trade agreements that provoke a distortion of competition.

Hulot had said past 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.

He also denied the possibility of reverting the authorization given to Total to import palm oil, although he agreed to receive the guild representatives tomorrow. Some European lawmakers are pushing for a ban on palm oil use in biofuel, citing its effect on the environment.

The issue of palm oil use has caused friction with Indonesia and Malaysia, the two largest palm oil producers, with Malaysian officials warning of trade repercussions that could affect a potential deal to buy French fighter jets.