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Catalan farmers offer pears and apples at the French border to protest against the fruit boycott

French farmers have been protesting against their difficulties by destroying fruit and vegetables from Spain once they entered France to supply European markets. After last weeks angriness and frustration, Catalan farmers decide to answer back by offering, for one hour, their apples and pears for free to all the cars coming from France and explaining in four different languages the reason for their action.

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18 August 2011 11:31 PM

by

ACN / Tania Tapia

La Jonquera (ACN).- This Thursday at noon and for one entire hour, Catalan farmers have been offering apples and pears to all the drivers coming from France through the La Jonquera border, at the AP-7 highway. Around 50 farmers took over the highway toll and approached all of the stopped cars to offer them their fruit for free. In addition they explained to them the reasons for their action and distributed a leaflet written in four different languages. It was their way to answer back to the French farmers\u2019 boycott, when trucks transporting fruit and vegetables from Spain to supply European markets were stopped and their charge offloaded and destroyed it, in front of a passive French police. Last week Catalan farmers were protesting against their products\u2019 French boycott, pressing public powers to react and announcing possible retaliations to pay back their products\u2019 destruction. Finally, they have decided not to undergo a radical protest but a \u201Cfriendly\u201D one, as they say; an action not harming drivers nor French products. By offering fruit for free and insisting the drivers to consume European products, Catalan farmers want to protest against the French boycott but also against the low prices they are paid for their products. \u201CWe are all suffering from the same crisis\u201D, was claiming Joan Caball, the Coordinator of the farmer union \u2018Unió de Pagesos\u2019. Caball expains that this year there have not been large climate disasters, therefore production was very high when consumption has decreased due to the economic crisis but also due to the cucumber crisis. The result is that prices have dropped and many fruit and vegetable producers are losing money.


Catalan farmers\u2019 protest has been a vindictive and pacific action. Road traffic has only been interrupted for 10 minutes and drivers were approached in a friendly way. Farmers took the opportunity, the moment that cars were practically stopped, to go through the highway toll and contact them to offer them some fruit pieces. \u201CFrench farmers said that Spanish fruit is low quality and we want to prove that it\u2019s not true\u201D, one farmer from Catalonia explained. \u201CNo, no, this fruit has a better taste than the French one\u201D, answered a woman in a car who was offered an apple. In another part of the toll, a Spanish truck driver celebrated the action whilst complaining about last week\u2019s French protests: \u201CIn France we are treated like dogs\u201D, he stressed. An Italian tourist underlined \u201Cagriculture is the most important thing\u201D.

Joan Caball asked for an agreement between French and Spanish farmers. He explained \u201Cwe have the same problems with the [low] prices; what we have to do is go united without fighting between us\u201D. According to Caball, prices dropped because of several factors: no natural disasters happened this year in Western Europe, provoking large stocks of product and thus a large supply of fruit and vegetables on the market. In addition, in places where harvesting took place later in the year, the good weather brought it forward, coinciding with other productions. In addition, the summer was not very hot, and combined with the economic crisis caused fruit consumption to be lower than other years. In addition, Caball insisted that the oligopoly of commercial food distribution abuses fruit and vegetable producers and imposes low prices. In Spain, the main commercial distributor of food is the French group Carrefour. For all those reasons, Caball asked French producers to stop destroying fruit and vegetables coming from Spain. Furthermore, the \u2018Unió de Pagesos\u2019 coordinator asked the European Union to find solutions to help the agriculture sector. They ultimately ask for a modification of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

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  • A farmer carrying a box of apples to be distributed to drivers coming from France (by T. Tapia)

  • A farmer carrying a box of apples to be distributed to drivers coming from France (by T. Tapia)