French farmers suspend fuel blockades after government gesture

French farmers suspend fuel blockades after government gesture

France's main farmers' union earlier on Wednesday called on members to end the blockade, linked to anger over competition from agricultural imports including palm oil used for biofuel.

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.

She called farmers to hold blockades until at least the morning.

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

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

"In South America the average cattle ranch has 24,000 cows, while in France we have on average just 80 - and yet we're always being told to be more environmentally friendly", said Christiane Lambert, president of the FNSEA farmers' union, France's biggest.

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Widespread fuel shortages were not expected, however, given France's network of seven refineries, 200 fuel depots, emergency fuel reserves, and the absence of sympathy action by fuel sector workers.

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.

While the European Parliament has made a decision to ban palm oil imports by 2021, France recently gave the go-ahead for a biorefinery owned by Total, a move that prompted many critics.

France has said it would oppose a full European Union ban but junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Monday Paris wanted to cap and progressively cut palm oil imports. French farmers say its growing use has added to their competitive disadvantage because of high taxes and strict environmental regulations in France.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the two largest producers of palm oil.

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