Sarkozy announces loans for crisis-hit French farmers
PARIS: French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Saturday an extra 800 million euros in subsidised loans for farmers hit by the financial crisis, taking to 1.8 billion euros a package for the sector.
"The money will be there to finance everything to allow you to tide over the financial crisis," he said at the Paris agricultural show during a round table meeting with farmers' unions.
"I will do for the French agriculture sector -- a strategic and key sector -- what we have tried to do for the financial crisis," he said.
Sarkozy in October announced one billion euros (1.3 billion dollars) in aid for embattled French farmers, whose revenues were slashed by around a third last year. Dairy farmers saw their incomes halved.
The French leader also announced Saturday an extra 50 million euros in aid for badly indebted farmers, taking the total amount to 100 million euros.
He pledged to take moves to ensure that markets are better regulated.
"From November France will head the G20. We will take the initiative to promote real market regulations for primary agricultural goods to prevent growing speculation," he said.
"The farmer is an entrepreneur. He should be able to live off prices and not subsidies," Sarkozy added.
Earlier this week, Sarkozy launched a drive to reverse an accelerating decline in French industry, protect jobs and raise manufactured output by 25 percent over five years.
The French leader said 6.5 billion euros (8.84 billion dollars) would be assigned to support research and investment from funds raised by a special bond -- "the grand national loan" -- he intends to issue later this year.