French Farmers' Protest Against Palm Oil Imports Gaining Steam

No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total

French oil and gas major Total TOTF.PA said on Tuesday that 3.5 percent of its petrol stations in France were out of fuel on the second-day of a blockade of refineries and fuel depots by farmers that has disrupted distribution.

France's main farm union called early on Wednesday for protestors to continue a blockade of refineries and fuel depots after the government failed to ease their concerns.

Christiane Lambert, president of farmers' union FNSEA, said the blockades were meant to pressure the government over recent trade agreements that would allow imports of meat, sugar, and ethanol from countries "that do not respect the same conditions of production as French products".

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

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said Monday that the government would not back down, adding that he would meet soon with unions as well as biofuels producers to discuss supplies and pricing. "It is not by blocking refineries that we are going to find adequate solutions", Travert told French RTL radio.

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.

Gang break into home and shoot man dead, seriously injuring his girlfriend
Wilk , also known as Nick, ran a garden maintenance business in the area and had lived in Ireland for a number of years. After the armed men fled the scene, a auto was found burned out in the Waterfall area around five miles away.

Total's decision was "the last straw", she said in an interview with Franceinfo television.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel.

Total committed to use less than 300,000 tonnes of crude palm oil per year at its La Mede biofuel refinery out of a total processing capacity of 650,000 tonnes, and to use 50,000 tonnes of locally grown rapeseed.

Palm oil has been criticised in Europe for environmental destruction and some lawmakers are pushing for a ban on its use in biofuel as part of new European Union energy targets.

The issue has caused friction with Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's two largest palm oil producers, with Malaysian officials warning of trade repercussions including in the possible purchase of French fighter jets.

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