'Eat French' say fed-up farmers in country-wide protests

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Farmers fear that falling prices linked to Russia's import embargo and big harvests in the European Union this summer will cut incomes.

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Farmers dumped mounds of potatoes in central Paris and manure at government buildings in other towns as they urged their countrymen to "Eat French" in a day of national protests, reports Reuters.

Fed up with environmental regulations and a downturn in agricultural markets, farmers piled 50 tonnes of fruit and vegetables at the Place de la République in Paris, then bagged it for passers-by.

Farmers fear that falling prices linked to Russia's import embargo and big harvests in the European Union this summer will cut farm incomes in the bloc's largest agricultural producer after an average drop of 20 percent in 2013.

"Clearly we are expressing our annoyance, and the annoyance of the entire farming world," Damien Greffin, head of the FNSEA union in Paris region, told Reuters.

"Today, a farmer devotes most of his time to administration and paperwork rather than production to feed the population, and this is completely unacceptable."

Wednesday's day of action called by the FNSEA brought around 36,000 farmers out onto the streets across France, accompanied by hundreds of tractors, the union said.

Farmer frustration over red tape and a deteriorating economic outlook has led to more than 150 protests around the country since late August, the FNSEA said.

In an extreme case, vegetable growers in Brittany set fire to public buildings in September.

The government has condemned such violent incidents but has also tried to address farmer grievances at a time when unpopular socialist president François Hollande is facing discontent due to a struggling economy.

Read more of this report from Reuters.

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