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French farmers protest against tax increases

Farmers burn rice straws to protest against their conditions and tax increases in front of the National Assembly in Paris, 24 June 2014.
Farmers burn rice straws to protest against their conditions and tax increases in front of the National Assembly in Paris, 24 June 2014. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

About 250 French farmers protested early Tuesday morning, in front of the National Assembly, against tax increases and regulations.

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Members of the National Federation of Farmers' Unions (FNSEA) and young farmers burnt rice straws to protest against the government agriculture policy.

More demonstrations are expected on Tuesday throughout France.

A new law called "projet de loi d'avenir" is in question.

Farmers are especially angry about an amendment prohibiting the use of pesticides within 200 kilometres of public places, such as schools and creches.

Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll and Minister of Ecology, Ségolène Royal, acted last week to allay concerns.

"The prohibition will only concern sensitive places and other precautionary measures will be studied", said ministers.

"We hope the government might have understood", said the FNSEA secretary general Dominique Barrau, "but now they have to follow through."

This comes just after the government announced on Monday a new plan to replace the controversial Ecotax - which led farmers and lorry drivers to demonstrate throughout France last year. 

The Ecotax will be resurrected in a watered-down form, but it will raise around 500 million euros a year, against the 800 million originally expected.

Finance minister Michel Sapin said on Monday that the government will compensate for the lower revenue, with possible motorway toll taxes.

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