France’s dairy, pork, and beef farmers have joined forces to berate the government for creating such low milk and meat prices that the industries have become unsustainable.
Protests, which have been growing over the last several weeks, came to a head when hundreds of farmers blocked a number of roads across northern France, preventing access to Mont Saint-Michel, a particularly lucrative tourist region.
Many farmers showed up on their tractors and other farm vehicles, some carrying buckets of dirt and manure that they dumped in front of local businesses — including a distribution center and a meat-processing plant — accused of contributing to the unfair prices. Protest signs attacked the French government, reading “You are letting us die.”
Although retailers have previously pledged to raise prices on meat and dairy, farmers say that nothing has been done, and have resorted to organizing strikes across the country to bring more attention to the matter. President François Hollande has also called for such retailers “to offer consumers quality and farmers a good price.”
Stéphane Le Foll, the French minister of agriculture, has said that he would meet with farmers in Paris, but the suggestion has been rejected in favor of more meaningful gatherings with food industry leaders.
“Meetings in Paris that don't lead to anything do not interest us,” said Jean-Yves Heurtin, regional head of the Departmental Federation of Farmers' Unions (FDSEA).