French Farmers Plan to Blockade Total Refineries and Fuel Depots

French Farmers Plan to Blockade Total Refineries and Fuel Depots

French Farmers Plan to Blockade Total Refineries and Fuel Depots

Farmers are concerned about the impact on locally produced oilseed crops, further souring relations between the EU's biggest agricultural sector and the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

Agriculture Minister, Stephane Travert, said today that the occupation of refineries and deposits is illegal, and ruled out that this will cause a shortage of fuel in the country.

Farmers in France have blocked access to several oil depots and refineries in protest - that is organized to last three days - against the proposed use of imported palm oil at a Total biofuel plant.

"We're not against imports. but for consumers, we want the government to be consistent and apply the same rules to imports, otherwise French agriculture will disappear", said Samuel Vandaele of the Young Farmers' union outside a Total refinery southeast of Paris.

The group's French refineries were not impacted by the protests but 145 of its 2,200 petrol stations across the country saw fuel outages, he said. The companies, on the other hand, have urged people to not panic-buy gas as it would result in shortages.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel and French farmers say its growing use has added to their longstanding competitive disadvantage because of high taxes and strict environmental regulations in France.

All in all, 16 sites were blocked on Monday, according to France's largest farm union FNSEA.

The minister called on angry protesters to sit for negotiations to reach "adequate solutions", insisting that the government would not back down on its decision to allow energy giant Total to import palm oil at a biofuel plant in La Mede, southeastern France.

"Our target is the state", Lambert said, adding that Total's decision on palm oil was "the last straw".

French rapeseed and sunflower growers, who say they will lose out due to Total's imports, accuse foreign palm oil producers of failing to respect the regulatory requirements European producers must follow.

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