Saturday, 20 July, 2019

Farmers Block Refineries to Protest Palm Oil Import

No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total French farmers start refinery blockade over palm oil imports
Sandy Nunez | 13 June, 2018, 17:28

Farmers will start blockading French refineries and fuel depots of Total SA on Sunday, to protest the company's decision to import palm oil for a biofuel refinery, Christiane Lambert, president of farmers' union FNSEA, said in an interview on Franceinfo television.

Farmers are concerned about the impact on locally produced oilseed crops, further souring relations between the EU's biggest agricultural sector and the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

Travert noted that the government would not reconsider its decision to allow energy giant Total to import palm oil at a biofuel plant in La Mede, southeastern France where production was scheduled for this summer.

The firm, which operates five of France's seven refineries, nine depots, and 2,200 petrol stations, said the depots and four refineries were still blocked.

Many farmers welcomed the president's call for fairer farmgate prices as part of a food chain review a year ago.

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Separately, junior minister Brune Poirson, who reports to environment minister Nicolas Hulot, said on Twitter that "France wants to stop the rise in use from one year to the other" for both palm oil and soybean oil. It said on Monday morning the blockade by farmers had not had an impact on operations.

He also denied the possibility of reverting the authorization given to Total to import palm oil, although he agreed to receive the guild representatives tomorrow.

Fuel shortages were not expected as a result of the blockade, given France's network of emergency fuel reserves and in the absence of sympathy action by fuel sector workers.

Last month, authorities gave Total permission to use palm oil as a feedstock. French farmers say its growing use has added to their competitive disadvantage because of high taxes and strict environmental regulations in France. This was part of a three-day protest over plans to allow Total to use palm oil at a biofuel plant.

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".