French farmers are furious with the European Union as they battle to stay in business amid an influx of cheap Ukrainian imports.
In a protest held on Thursday, farmers in France’s Centre-Val-De-Loire region demanded a minimum price on imported honey to protect French beekeepers who say they are being priced out by the cheaper product.
It comes after the EU made Ukraine exempt from customs duties on agricultural imports in a bid to support the country after it was invaded by Russia.
But as a result farmers in France say they cannot compete with the low cost imports.
Slovakia recently banned the import of Ukrainian honey, sugar, malt and soybeans after its government claimed it was causing its own farmers “severe” financial difficulties.
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French farmers told Le Figaro “imported honey is killing us” during the demonstration which saw about 100 beekeepers gather at Place de la Republique in Paris.
Manuel Roger, a beekeeper in Indre told the French newspaper he produced between 60 and 70 tonnes of honey each year and usually sold two thirds of that, but this year he says sales have been decimated.
He said: “The real difficulty is marketing our products. I’ve sold five tons, traders’ stocks are full, our honey is not being sold.”
The French consume about 45,000 tonnes of honey per year with about 20,000 tonnes produced on home soil, according to French agricultural union, Confédération Paysanne, which called for the demonstration with the National Union of French Beekeeping and the National Beekeeping Union.
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Its spokeswoman, Laurence Marandola said: “This is the first time that we have so much honey on farms that we cannot sell.
“Imports continue at scandalous prices, less than two euros per kilo, particularly from eastern Europe.”
She said the price of honey had not fallen for consumers despite the cheap imports.
A delegation from the union was received at the French Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday, where beekeepers asked for emergency cash flow aid, estimated at around 50 million euros, as well as the establishment of a minimum price of entry into the country which cannot be lower than the cost price in France.
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