French farmers unions call off protest after PM unveils raft of concessions

France’s two major farmers unions on Thursday suspended protests and lifted road blockades across the country on the back of a set of new government measures they said amounted to "tangible progress".

Farmers have been out in force for more than a week in protests triggered by an agricultural fuel duty hike, pay conditions, high taxes and onerous red tape.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal offered a slew of new concessions including an annual 150 million euros for livestock farmers and a ban on food imports treated with thiacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide already banned in France.

Attal said he wanted to "better recognise the farming profession", "protect (farmers) against unfair competition" and "give value back to our food".

He also vowed to ensure a clear Europe-wide definition of lab-grown meat, a technology still in its infancy – apparently anticipating similar agricultural resistance to the product as has met plant-based milk and meat substitutes.

Easing of rules

France will also stop imposing stricter regulation on its farmers than European Union rules require, Attal said.

And he reiterated that France would remain opposed to the EU signing a free-trade deal with the Mercosur trade group of South American countries.

Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau announced a €2 billion loan package for those who are setting up as farmers.

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