The blockage of fuel stations, distribution centres and refineries as a protest to the Government decision to increase the pension age with two years (from 65 to 67) have been going on for two weeks now and are paralyzing France.
As a result in Brittany, the heart of French agriculture, manufacturers of animal feed are ringing the alarm bells. They fear for the supply of livestock feed.
As a result of the blockage of the majority of French refineries the French Farmers Union FNSEA fears for the feed supply to the farms. "The lack of diesel is a hindrance to the general supply to farms, and key challenges for planting and other fieldwork, but especially for the animal feed supply," it said.
Also the collection of animals for export or slaughter and collection of milk is becoming critical.
FNSEA urges the French government to take proper action to secure that regular farm work can continue.
Ships waiting at sea
It is not only that it is becoming difficult to supply farms with feed, also ships loaded with raw materials lay in waiting to enter the French ports.
"The Ports of Montoire of Brittany, Nantes, Saint Nazaire, Lorient and Brest are blocked for several weeks. Vessels are waiting for a long time in the port and unload only sparsely," said Lawrence Morin, director of the Afab (Association of Feed Manufacturers).
"We import a lot of soybean meal and grain, including feed wheat in northern Europe, which is less expensive than French bread wheat that is exported from Rouen. If no significant improvement in the situation is created by someone, animals will starve. Today, we can still organize ourselves to deliver the farmers, but we will run into great difficulties soon," Morin states.
The lack of fuel also threatens food and feed processing plants with closure, especially in western France, the National Association of Food Industries (Ania) said in a statement, requesting that the sector enjoys priority in access to fuel.
"The area of western France, a major food-processing region in the country (over 130,000 jobs), is the most impacted by the supply problems,” Ania said.
It said that if "the fuel shortage persist in the next 48 hours and if blocking of ports continues, many plants may no longer be supplied with raw materials or meet their obligations to collect milk, among others.”
According to Ania these factories "will therefore have no choice but to close their doors or some production lines." The organisations fears for lay-offs.