A French farmer has mown the word “help” in his wheat field in a desperate bid to attract support from the country’s presidential election candidates.

Jacques Fortin, who farms in Athée-sur-Cher near Tours, created the 100sq m by 48sq m message in a 5ha wheat field to urge politicians to provide greater backing for agriculture.

“This is a collective SOS signal on behalf of all the farmers. We had four consecutive years of bad weather. Farmers are burned out, they are tired,” the 63-year-old told AFP News.

See also: French farmers step up milk price protests

Mr Fortin accused the Hollande government of being deaf to the plight of farmers – despite a string of protests over low prices in recent months.

This is a collective SOS signal on behalf of all the farmers. We had four consecutive years of bad weather. Farmers are burned out, they are tired Jacques Fortin

He added: “Political leaders do not listen to us. They’re deaf to our anger. I hope they’re not blind and will read this message of despair.”

Mr Fortin said he had suffered three consecutive bad harvests, was living on less than €350/month (£296/month) and did not earn enough money to enjoy a good quality of life.

“I don’t think there is a future [for] my son in agriculture,” he added. “Without money, you cannot do anything.”

Low prices

Mr Fortin hit out amid the ongoing agricultural crisis which has been punishing French farmers for months, driving many out of business and some towards taking their own lives.

Bad weather, falling food prices, weakening global demand for dairy and Russia’s ban on food imports have hit French farming incomes hard.

Last year, more than half of French farmers were living below the country’s national poverty line.

France is preparing for the first round of voting in the country’s presidential elections on 23 April.