The French government has appointed mediators in a bid to resolve the stand-off between the country's producers and dairies over price.

French Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier today (19 May) launched plans to broker discussions between farmer representatives and the country's processors amid growing tension and nationwide protests.

Towns up and down France and dairies owned by Danone, Lactalis, Sodiaal and Bongrain were set to see demonstrations today after the FNSEA, the French farmers union, yesterday called for a national day of protest.

The protesters are angry at price cuts of more than 30% in the second quarter of the year. FNSEA president Jean-Michel Lemétayer said the "distress" felt by the protesters was "understandable" and that he "supports" the demonstrations.

Bel, the French cheese maker behind brands including The Laughing Cow, yesterday called for talks between the dairy industry and farmers to restart.

Bel met with milk producers body the FNPL and farming group Jeunes Agriculteurs at its Paris head office and called for talks to begin as soon as possible.

"The company looks forward to an early resumption of negotiations within the profession on the price of milk for the months ahead," Bel said.

Agriculture Minister Barnier has named Philippe de Guénin, a regional government official, and finance official Pierre Lepetit as mediators.

Next week (25 May), Barnier will seek a debate at EU level when the bloc's agriculture ministers meet.