Total says 3.5 percent petrol stations dry to French farmers' blockade

No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total

The FNSEA had called for the blockades to be maintained early on Wednesday after the talks ended, saying they "did not get enough".

The French farmers' blockades at oil refineries to oppose the government approval of Total's use of imported palm oil at a biofuel plant was "illegal", said Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert.

The farmers also used tons of onions, wood and rubble to obstruct the roadways.

The move came after the French energy giant Total chose to use a cheaper, imported palm oil at its biofuel plant.

"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. This blockade is illegal. "It is not by blocking refineries that we are going to find adequate solutions", Travert told French RTL radio.

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.

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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.

Total's initiative to import palm oil for its biofuel plant was just "the last straw", the representative added.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel and French farmers say its growing use has added to their long-standing competitive disadvantage because of high taxes and strict environmental regulations in France.

Contrastingly, Malaysian officials have warned of possible trade repercussions that could affect a French fighter jet deal.

Besides a ban on palm oil imports, she wants the government to outlaw agriculture imports produced using fertilisers, herbicides and other products prohibited in the European Union as part of an agriculture law that will be debated in the Senate starting June 26.

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