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French farmers block border roads in price protest

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Baku, July 29, AZERTAC

French farmers are stopping lorries importing farm produce from Germany and Spain, in a border protest over what they call unfair price competition, according to AFP.

Farmers parked tractors to block several roads near the borders late on Sunday. The farmers' protests over food prices have disrupted traffic across France for more than a week.

At least six roads linking France and Germany were blocked in the Strasbourg region on Monday.

The farmers are letting cars through.

French farmers have been hit by lower meat consumption, reduced demand from China and a Russian ban on EU food imports.

The Socialist government estimates that as many as 10% of French farmers could be facing bankruptcy.

In south-west France, farmers blocking the A64 highway with tractors stopped dozens of lorries arriving from Spain. They threatened to remove meat or fruit destined for the French market.

Last week, the government announced aid to ease farmers' debts, the cancellation of taxes worth some €100m (£71m; $111m) and new loan guarantees for farmers.

But a French farmers' union leader, Franck Sander, said the relief measures would not address the problem of cheap produce entering France from other EU countries.

"The measures announced by the government are only about postponing contributions, but none of them deal with the competition distortions," he said, referring to European competitors.

Labour costs are lower in neighbouring countries, he said.

For asparagus growers, he said, 80% of the production cost is labour, and German growers pay their east European workers €5 per hour, compared with an hourly wage of €12 in France.

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