Farmers block oil refineries and depots across France

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Farmers block oil refineries and depots across France

"We have worked a lot but we did not get enough".

At least five sites were to be blocked on Sunday, with a total of 13 sites disrupted from 9am Monday, Christiane Lambert, president of the FNSEA said in an interview with France Info television.

France's farm minister said on Monday that a decision by farmers to launch a blockade of oil refineries and fuel depots to protest a government decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant was illegal.

The farmers also used tons of onions, wood and rubble to obstruct the roadways.

"I want Total and biofuel producers to reach an agreement on a base price and a contract that will benefit rapeseed producers", Travert told RTL radio.

The move came after the French energy giant Total chose to use a cheaper, imported palm oil at its biofuel plant.

Organisers say the farmers' blockades are aimed at pressuring the government into curbing palm oil use at La Mede and to address other grievances such as imports of South American meat. The farmers are strongly opposed to the importation of the product which, they say, will likely cut into the profits of locally produced rapeseed oil.

French authorities last month gave Total permission to use palm oil as one of the feedstocks at its La Mede biofuel refinery in southern France, infuriating farmers who grow local oilseed crops such as rapeseed and environmentalists who blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in south-east Asia.

"Our target is the state", FNSEA's Lambert said, adding Total's decision on palm oil was "the last straw".

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.

Small farmers in Malaysia, the world's second largest palm oil producer after Indonesia, said a move to cap palm oil exports at an European Union level would be discriminatory and a "betrayal".

"This proposal is a betrayal of promises made by the French Government, and others in Europe, to the people of Malaysia", they said in a statement sent by Faces of Palm Oil lobby group.

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