Hundreds of farmers in France have been fired on with tear gas after protesting over poor milk prices.

Protestors attempted to disrupt France’s farm minister Bruno Le Maire from making a speech at international livestock trade fair SPACE in Rennes on Tuesday (14 September).

Producers from French farming groups including Confederation Paysanne and Apli, the Independent Association of Milk Producers, were unable to get past police officers to where the minister was speaking and began throwing eggs and bags filled with manure.

They then stormed the fair’s main hall, destroying stands of a number of organisations including the agriculture commission, before police fired tear gas into the crowds.

Mr Le Maire was at the fair to unveil a €300m, three-year support package to help beef, pork and milk producers who had been protesting against rising costs and weak prices.

But farmers were angry they had not been part of negotiations over milk prices and trade rules.

Earlier in the morning a procession of about 300 producers of the European Milk Board, Apli and the Organization of Milk Producers had paraded outside the fair before being stopped by police,

Francis Lucas, president of farmer group Rural Coordination, said the protests were an indiciation of the difficulties farmers had in being heard.

“The destruction of the stands shows the desperation of milk producers.

“The announcement by the Minister is insignificant compared to the distress of agriculture.”

• Watch a video of the protests here

French Milk Protest 2010, photos by Helen Thoday, BPEX

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