France has criticised the European Commission's decision to cut subsidies for exports of poultry meat beyond European Union borders.

France's agriculture ministry has criticised a decision by the Commission to cut export subsidies from EUR217 (US$289) per tonne to EUR108.5m. It said the Commission told the ministry of the decision on 17 January.

A day later, French agriculture officials called a crisis meeting with poultry industry leaders.

Since last summer, the French government and industry have lobbied for a more gradual reduction in export subsidies; something the agriculture ministry believes has at least delayed the Commission's decision.

However, the ministry said it continues to "contest the Commission's economic rationale" for the subsidy cut. "Ministers will continue fighting to avoid any new cuts," it added.

The ministry has also promised short-term financial aid for the poultry sector, alongside longer-term funding for research and development.