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Agriculture France Latin America Protests European Union

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French farmers' protests caused 650,000 euros' damage

Farmers protesting in Toulouse on 7 February AFP

Protests by farmers on the Toulouse ringroad this month caused damage that will cost 650,000 euros to clear up, the authorities have announced. More demonstrations were planned across the country for Wednesday.

Angry farmers blocked traffic with tractors on the ringroad of the south-western city from 31 January to 7 February in protest at plans to reclassify "less favoured agricultural areas", which are entitled to EU subsidies.

They barbecued sausages, burnt wooden palettes and bails of hay and dumped manure and asbestos panels on the A64, which heads south to Bayonne in the French Basque country.

Different damage requires different treatment, the department that manages the road said in a statement, putting the bill for removing tyres alone at 200,000 euros.

The total, not counting labour costs, is put at an estimated 650,000 euros.

More protests Wednesday

Farmers' union FNSEA has called for demonstrations all over France on Wednesday, ahead of the annual Salon de l'Agriculture which opens in Paris this weekend.

They are worried about the reclassification and a possible European Union agreement with Latin America's Mercosur bloc, made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, which could men massive beef imports that would be unwelcome competition for French farmers.

Both the agricultural and supermarket sectors are awaiting the government's conclusions from last year's consultations with all actors in food production and sale.

A bill is to be presented to parliament that will aim to prevent supermarkets squeezing suppliers to hard on prices.