Sunday, 20 January, 2019

French Farmers' Protest Against Palm Oil Imports Gaining Steam

Workers blocking the access of French oil giant Total’s La Mede refinery in Chateauneuf-les-Martigues France French Farmers' Protest Against Palm Oil Imports Gaining Steam
Theresa Hayes | 13 June, 2018, 20:27

The Vatry fuel depot in the Marne region of northeastern France was the first to be blocked on Sunday evening as about 100 farmers set up barricades with tractors and mounds of rubble, a spokesman from the FNSEA farmers union told Reuters.

A total of 16 sites were blocked on Monday afternoon, France's largest farm union FNSEA (National Federation of Agricultural Holders' Unions) said on Twitter.

The farmers' protests began late Sunday and have been called for three days because "dialogue has broken down" with the government, Greffon said.

Total's decision on palm oil was "the last straw", she said.

France's biggest agriculture union on Wednesday told its farmers to suspend a blockade of refineries and fuel depots that had entered its third day over palm oil imports and unfair competition, a union official said. The companies, on the other hand, have urged people to not panic-buy gas as it would result in shortages. Environmentalists also blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in southeast Asia.

Hulot had said previous 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.

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.

France has said it would oppose a full European Union ban but junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Monday Paris wanted to cap and progressively cut palm oil imports.

Total argues that its refining plan involves less palm oil than allowed by the authorities, offers an outlet for local rapeseed and will develop large-scale recycling of used oil and fat.

Farmers fear that the move could negatively affect the use of locally produced oilseed crops.