French farm groups have spoken out against the French government's deregulation of milk pricing as the battle between farmers and dairy group Entremont Alliance over pricing heats up. 

Dairy farmers in western France have blockaded Entremont's distribution points in protest at the farm-gate milk price rise Entremont has proposed.

Entremont has offered a price increase of EUR30.10 (US$44.44) per 1,000 litres of milk, which would see farm-gate prices rise to EUR311. However, the FDSEA union representing the dairy farmers has called for an increase of EUR49 per 1,000 litres.

The clash comes after the French government deregulated milk-price negotiations earlier in the year.

The National Federation of Milk Producers (FNSEA) has said that the deregulation of the sector is good for neither farmers nor consumers and reflects the short-term concerns of the government.
"The price increase Entremont has proposed is insufficient, given the rising costs farmers are facing," a spokesperson for FNSEA told just-food. "Entremont has taken advantage of the deregulation of the relationship between milk producers and manufacturers. Entremont is trying to enforce its will on the milk price, rather than negotiating with milk suppliers."

Henri Brichart, FNSEA president, has been vocal in his criticism of the government's move to deregulate the sector.

"This deregulation is not legitimate," Brichart said.

"The deregulation is not good either for the producer or the consumer. Government policy is too short-term: it wants to bring down prices in shelves. But by deregulating, the price paid to producers declines. Farmers then react accordingly and the collection decreases. But demand continues, and, over several years, the producer price increases thus increasing consumer prices."

Entremont-Alliance will be meeting with representatives of the farmers today (28 August) to negotiate the price increase.