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Wednesday, 15 April, 1998, 04:58 GMT 05:58 UK
French farmers wage 'cauliflower war'
Cauliflower farmers
Farmers protesting falling prices threw tons of cauliflowers on the road to block the highway
French farmers protesting at falling cauliflower prices have blocked roads and railway lines in Britanny for the second day running, standing in front of trains and starting fires along the tracks.

They are demanding government aid to offset losses stemming from the so-called "cauliflower war," in which the crop's price fell below production costs.

Further industrial action is being planned, but the French farm minister has described the protests as unacceptable, saying that subsidies to the farming sector were already at record levels.

"We hoped for a gesture from the government and it never came. The farmers are very mobilised, very determined," said Thierry Merret, leader of farm union FDSEA.

Agriculture Ministry officials say that Breton farmers already receive 20% of France's agricultural aid, while the value of their crops amount to only 6% of the country's total.

The French railway authority has filed a lawsuit against the farmers in an attempt to recover the cost of the damage, estimated at more than 10m French francs ($20m).

The disruption was aggravated by a parallel protest by French railway workers demanding extra manpower to cope with increased passenger levels during this summer's football World Cup.

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