No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total

French farmers block refineries fuel depots over palm oil imports

They have joined environmentalists in their call to ban palm oil cultivation as it would lead to deforestation in southeast Asia, where most of the world's palm oil is being produced.

Dozens of French farmers blocked access to 13 refineries across the country on Monday to protest plans to import palm oil for use in biofuels, a move they denounce as unfair competition which jeopardises their livelihood.

The protests are a sign of growing anger in France's farming communities which have so far not mobilised in large numbers against the government of President Emmanuel Macron since his election.

Farm Minister Stephane Travert said on Monday the farmers' blockades were illegal and the government would not rescind the decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil. Many farmers welcome the president's call for fairer farmgate prices as part of a food chain review a year ago, but they have been irked by Macron's attempt to phase out common weedkiller glyphosate before other European Union countries.

The Vatry fuel depot in the Marne region of northeastern France was the first to be blocked on Sunday evening as about 100 farmers set up barricades with tractors and mounds of rubble.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel.

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Oil and gas major Total said on Tuesday that 3.5 per cent of its petrol stations in France had run out of fuel on the second day of the blockade disrupted distribution.

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

Organisers say the farmers' blockades are aimed at pressuring the government into curbing palm oil use at La Mede and to address other grievances such as imports of South American meat.

"This blockade can not be the solution to the discussion that we are going to have".

Hulot had said a year ago France would take steps to restrict the use of palm oil in producing biofuels in order to reduce deforestation in the countries of origin, without detailing the measures.

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

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