French farmers on fresh egg-breaking rampage

French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on Aug 7, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on Aug 7, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

PLOUGUER, France (AFP) - A group of French farmers has been on another egg-breaking rampage in Brittany, destroying 100,000 outside a tax office a day after a similar protest over low prices.

The nebulous collective, which communicates through an unnamed spokesman, has pledged to smash 100,000 eggs in public places every day until the government meets its demands for measures to be taken to raise prices.

On Wednesday evening, the farmers went to the town of Carhaix in Brittany in France's north-west and hurled pallets full of eggs from a truck on to the road in front of the tax office.

The previous night, they had destroyed 100,000 eggs in the neighbouring Cotes d'Armor department near a supermarket and at a roundabout.

Poultry farmers in France have for several months complained of rock-bottom egg prices due to overproduction - a problem that also affects other countries in the European Union.

They say current prices do not make up for a rise in production costs or investments they had to make as part of an EU directive that came into force in January 2012 to protect the well-being of laying hens.

"We are at our wits' end," said the spokesman. "We're ready to give these eggs to developing countries, but they cannot stay on French territory."

Destroying 100,000 eggs a day equates to five per cent of the production of poultry farmers involved in the collective.

The group has called for France's entire egg production to be reduced by five per cent to help raise prices, and asked the government to set up a specific area for eggs to be destroyed.

It has pledged to keep smashing the eggs every day until Sunday, after which it says the protest movement would become more radical "with inevitable collateral damage" if the group's demands are not met.

According to Mr Yves-Marie Beaudet, head of the egg section of a union that represents poultry farmers in Brittany, producers currently get paid 75 cents (S$1.26) for a kilogram of eggs - against a cost price of 95 cents.

The UGPVB union says the European Union has 15 to 20 million excess laying hens out of a total of around 350 million.