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Irate French Farmers Block Tourist Sites To Protest Low Meat And Dairy Prices

Farmers blocked the road to Mont Saint-Michel, the tourist attraction  seen in the distance.
Jacky Naegelen Reuters /Landov
Farmers blocked the road to Mont Saint-Michel, the tourist attraction seen in the distance.

French milk and meat farmers are mad. They say that prices for their products are so low that they can't even meet their costs. In protest, they are blocking roads to tourist attractions.

Mont Saint Michel — an island that's one of the most-visited tourist sites in France — is one of the places that's been cut off. At road blocks, protesters have reportedly used tractors, piles of manure and tires to cut off access to the two-lane road onto the island.

President Francois Hollande said he would present an emergency package of measures that would give farmers tax breaks and financial aid to save them from bankruptcy, the Telegraph reports.

"Mr Hollande said: 'Tomorrow's cabinet will take decisions. Beyond the issue of distribution and prices, I have asked that there should be an emergency plan for French livestock and dairy producers.' He said the measures would be 'structural' but gave no details. "Pierre Dupuis, a farmers' representative in Dordogne, said: 'We are counting on the government to press the right levers so we get fair and just prices.' Unions want the government to force supermarkets to pay more for farm produce, complaining they are being driven out of business by a price war among retailers. "It is unclear if the French government can easily regulate prices. Supermarket chains have so far rejected his pleas to increase prices voluntarily, saying they cannot afford to do so. An appeal by the agriculture minister for consumers to be more patriotic and 'eat and drink French' was met with derision from farmers."

The Independent notes France is still the biggest beneficiary of the European Union's Common Agriculture Policy. But over 40 percent of the subsidies paid in France are given to "relatively wealthy cereals farmers, who have traditionally controlled the French farm unions."

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