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French farmers block roads with tractors - as protests over pay and regulations spread to Brussels

Protests by French farmers over pay, rising costs, and regulations, have spread to new parts of the country and Brussels - as union leaders prepare to reveal a list of 40 demands to end their roadblocks.

Farmers have set up a tractor blockade along a main road in Brittany, northern France - following in the footsteps of farmers in the south of the country, who began protesting at the weekend.

French farmers were also joined on Wednesday by their Belgian counterparts in Brussels, where one farmer hung a plastic cow - painted in the blue of the EU flag - from a JCB near the European Parliament.

Arnaud Rousseau, head of the powerful FNSEA farming union, also told France 2 TV he could not rule out the possibility of protests spreading to the Paris region.

It comes after a 36-year-old farmer and her 12-year-old daughter died after they were struck by a car while taking part in a roadblock in Toulouse, southern France, on Tuesday.

The three people in the car have been arrested as police investigate whether the crash, in the Ariege region, was deliberate or accidental.

However, early indications suggest the accident was not deliberate, local prosecutors have reportedly told French media.

First test for new prime minister

The protests are the first major challenge for newly-appointed prime minister Gabriel Attal, who took office two weeks ago, after his predecessor resigned amid pressure from President Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Attal met with representatives from farmers' unions on Tuesday.

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Following the meeting, France's agriculture minister, Marc Fesneau, promised to make new proposals to respond to the crisis by the end of the week, with regards to food prices and simplifying regulations.

FNSEA union chief, Mr Rousseau, said his organisation would release a list of 40 demands by farmers in order to end the roadblocks.

What are the protests about?

Farming policy has long been a sensitive issue in France, the European Union's biggest agricultural producer, with thousands of independent producers of wine, meat and dairy products.

The farmers also have a track record of disruptive protests.

These particular protests are over a series of long-standing grievances, including low wages, burdensome regulations, fuel taxes and the impact of EU-enforced environmental rules that, they say, place even greater pressure on the sustainability of their businesses.

They follow similar protests in other European countries, including Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands - where protests sparked a wave in popularity towards the right-wing populist party, the Farmer-Citizen Movement.

Meanwhile, in France, the farmers have received wholehearted support from Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National party, whose president, Jordan Bardella, accused Mr Macron of plotting "the death of French agriculture".