QR.bizNewsFrench Farmers Block Refineries across the Country

French Farmers Block Refineries across the Country

"This blockade can not be the solution", the minister told RTL radio, adding that "this blockade is illegal".

French farmers began a blockade of at least 14 oil refineries and depots belonging to energy company Total on Sunday evening.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert on Monday denounced as "illegal" the farmers' blockades of oil refineries to oppose the government decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant.

France's main farm union called early on Wednesday for protestors to continue a blockade of refineries and fuel depots after the government failed to ease their concerns. "Do not rush into oil stations, it is often that which creates the shortage".

According to Deutsche Welle, they are also anxious about emerging competition, as local biofuel producers might want to go over to a cheaper palm oil from overseas instead of buying locally produced and more expensive rapeseed oil. Environmentalists also blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in southeast Asia.

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

The mostly symbolic blockade at La Mede was lifted around midday with farmers returning to work, according to a Reuters photographer on site.

"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", said the minister, Sebastien Lecornu, on Europe 1 radio.

While the European Parliament has chose to ban palm oil imports by 2021, France recently gave the go-ahead for a biorefinery owned by Total, a move that prompted many critics.

The issue of palm oil use has caused friction with Indonesia and Malaysia, the two largest palm oil producers, with Malaysian officials warning of trade repercussions that could affect a potential deal to buy French fighter jets.

French minister slams 'illegal' oil refinery blockades

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