France’s Hollande Calls on Retailers, Buyers to Help Farmers
Paris. French President Francois Hollande on Saturday called on French retailers to give higher prices to livestock producers to help support them.
The French cattle, pork and milk sector is in crisis due to stagnating prices and falling exports, with about 10 percent of the country’s producers on the brink of bankruptcy, Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said on Friday.
Farmers say a deteriorating international market, marked by a Russian food embargo, slowing Chinese demand and cheaper supply from other EU countries, has exposed longstanding pressures from business costs and retail consolidation in France.
“There is a very important agricultural crisis,” Hollande told France 2 TV, attending the Tour de France bicycle race in Mende, in the south of the country.
“I wanted to come for this part of the tour to speak about agriculture and tell distributors and big commercial centres … make an effort on prices even if, for consumers, it is a sacrifice,” Hollande was quoted as saying on France Info radio.
Hollande said distributors were planning to launch as of Monday a “Meats of France” label to help the sector and urged French consumers to support it.
France’s Socialist government has tried to address farmers’ complaints of unfair prices in the retail sector by getting food processors and supermarkets to agree last month to raise prices paid to farms.
Some beef breeders blocked access to a number of abattoirs last month in protest because low prices were squeezing their margins.
Le Foll said on Friday that pork producers were getting around 1.38 euros a kilogram, which was still below the target of 1.40 euros. Meanwhile, he said beef prices had only risen by 7 cents, below the target of 20 cents a kilogram.
Pledges were made mid-June of a price increase of 5 cents a week with cattle breeders saying at the time they hoped to get a raise of 60 cents a kilogram in total to cover their costs.
Le Foll is planning to meet farmers’ unions on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
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