French farmers call for pursuit of fuel blockades

French farmers call for pursuit of fuel blockades

"It is not by blocking refineries that we are going to find adequate solutions", Travert told RTL Radio.

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

The protests were triggered by France's decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant, which would compete with biodiesel made from locally produced oilseed crops, further souring relations between the EU's biggest farm sector and the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

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PARIS, June 11 (Reuters) - France wants to cap and progressively cut palm oil imports and will propose to do so at a European level, a junior minister said on Monday, as farmers block refineries across the country in protest against use of the vegetable oil in biofuels.

Total's 253,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Gonfreville refinery and nearby oil depot, its 109,000 bpd Feyzin refinery, the 220,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Donges refinery and 102,000 bpd Grandpuits refinery were among those blocked by farmers.

The French farmers' blockades at oil refineries to oppose the government approval of Total's use of imported palm oil at a biofuel plant was "illegal", said Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert. The companies, on the other hand, have urged people to not panic-buy gas as it would result in shortages.

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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.

The move is aimed at reducing the use of palm oil blamed for causing deforestation in southeast Asia, he said.

Hulot had said a year ago France would take steps to restrict the use of palm oil in producing biofuels in order to reduce deforestation in the countries of origin, without detailing the measures.

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

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