Police arrest dozens of farmers as tractor convoy closes in on Paris

French police detained 79 people Wednesday who broke into the Paris region's main wholesale market complex during nationwide protests by farmers, according to reports.

Reports from French news agency AFP claims that protesters briefly entered a storage area in the Rungis market south of Paris causing damage. They were taken out by security forces, the reports added.

France has been at the centre of growing rural discontent across Europe, with protests also held in Germany, Poland, Romania, Belgium and Italy.

Spanish farmers have said they will join the movement.

'Call for calm'

Amid mounting calls for higher incomes, less red tape and protection from foreign competition, "there are huge expectations" among farmers, said Arnaud Rousseau, head of France's largest agricultural union the FNSEA.

But he added that not all of the demands could be immediately answered "so I'm trying to call for calm and reasonableness".

Eighteen people trying to blockade the Rungis wholesale food market, south of Paris, a key food distribution hub for the capital region's 12 million people, were also arrested for "interfering with traffic", police said.

Prosecutors said 15 of those arrested were in custody.

Police said that as of midday Wednesday there were 6,500 protesting farmers and 4,500 tractors on French roads, blocking 80 spots along major roads.

Between 200 and 300 tractors in a convoy that set off from southwest France were kept away from the market by police, who deployed armoured vehicles as a precaution.

France is the biggest beneficiary of EU farm subsidies, receiving more than nine billion euros each year.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
French PM seeks to prove legitimacy and douse fires in first policy speech
French farmers block motorways to Paris [in pictures]
France seeks change to EU nature laws in bid to appease farmers