French Farmers Plan to Blockade Total Refineries and Fuel Depots

No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total

No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total

The protests are a sign of growing anger in France's farming communities which have so far not mobilised in large numbers against the government of President Emmanuel Macron since his election.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said Monday that the government would not back down, adding that he would meet soon with unions as well as biofuels producers to discuss supplies and pricing.

Farmers will start blockading French refineries and fuel depots of Total SA on Sunday, to protest the company's decision to import palm oil for a biofuel refinery, Christiane Lambert, president of farmers' union FNSEA, said in an interview on Franceinfo television.

Responding to a call by the National Federation of Agricultural Producers Unions and Young Farmers, the workers began yesterday the actions they will carry out for at least three days, and could be extended throughout the week. "Do not rush into oil stations, it is often that which creates the shortage". He said that the government is not going to backtrack on its decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil, and warned that the protest could not lead to any "adequate solutions". Environmentalists also blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in southeast Asia.

Total committed to use less than 300,000 tonnes of crude palm oil per year at its La Mede biofuel refinery out of a total processing capacity of 650,000 tonnes, and to use 50,000 tonnes of locally grown rapeseed.

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. Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil.

"We will commit at European Union level to cap, to freeze. based on the total 2017 volumes, the volume of imported (palm) oil to reduce it gradually in the coming years", French junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Europe 1 radio.

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