France’s newly appointed prime minister said yesterday (Tuesday, January 30) he is implementing controls on foreign food products in order to guarantee “fair competition” amid farmers’ protests.

In his general policy speech at the National Assembly, Gabriel Attal said “the goal is clear: guaranteeing fair competition, especially so regulations that are being applied to (French) farmers are also respected by foreign products”.

He also said food retailers who do not comply with a law meant to ensure a fair share of revenues for farmers will be fined, starting immediately.

Farmers have for days been protesting across France to put pressure on the government to respond to their demands for better remuneration for their produce, less red tape and protection against cheap imports.

With protesting farmers camped out on Tuesday at barricades around Paris, France’s government hoped to calm their anger with more concessions to their complaints that growing and rearing food has become too difficult and not sufficiently lucrative.

Mr Attal defended the farming sector in his first big speech to parliament laying out his government’s priorities, calling agriculture “our strength, and our pride. Not only because it feeds us in the literal sense but also because it constitutes one of the foundations of our identity, of our traditions”.