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Sarkozy calls for 'Marshall plan' to save French agriculture

Staff writer |
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has made an impassioned appeal to save France's agricultural industry from decline.

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During a walkabout at the annual agriculture fair in Paris, he hit out at the Socialist government for abandoning farmers and called for a new regime. Last week, Socialist leader François Hollande was booed as he tried to make his way through the food and trade stalls, in a sign of the growing crisis affecting farmers.

"It is urgent that we help farmers and change our president," Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters at France's annual agriculture fair, urging for the creation of a "Marshall plan" to help struggling farmers.

"I don't know if it's a coincidence, but since François Hollande came to power, we have fallen from fifth to third place in terms of exports. And our trade balance is now 8 billion instead of 10 billion euros," the ex-president said.

Falling food prices and declining sales to China have forced hundreds to abandon the industry, farmers' unions claim.

The Annual agriculture fair is seen as a springboard to iron out their grievances, while providing ambitious politicians the opportunity to burnish their farm credibility, made virtually compulsory by the earthy president Jacques Chirac.

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