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Farmers, retailers sign "fair price" agreement for produce

PARIS, Nov 14 (Reuters) - French farmers, food producers and
retailers signed an agreement on Tuesday to improve
relationships throughout the food chain, notably by ensuring
that farmers be paid a fair price for their output, they said.

The so-called charter of commitment is part of a wider
field-to-fork review promised by President Emmanuel Macron to
appease farmers, an important constituency in French politics,
who have long complained of being hit by squeezed margins and a
retail price war.

Most of the main retailers operating in France signed the
charter at the French agriculture ministry, notably Carrefour
, Casino, Auchan and unlisted
Leclerc which had expressed reluctance in signing an agreement.

Other parties included French farm cooperatives, food
producer groups, farm unions and industry representatives.

Macron announced last month some of the measures he would
push for as part of a wider food bill. But a law is not expected
until early next year, after the price negotiations in the food
chain that have just kicked off in France.

One of the main measures agreed on Tuesday is that price
fixing would start with producers, based on market prices and
production costs which would be taken into account by
manufacturers and suppliers and passed on to retailers.

"If a butter producer comes to us and tells us that milk
prices have soared 30 percent we commit to pass on the
increase," an Auchan spokesman said.

"Will this mean a rise in prices for consumers? Not

Last year a third of farmers earned less than 350 euros
($403) a month, the Agricultural Mutual Assistance Association
(MSA) said, a third of the net minimum wage.

Farm unions welcomed the agreement but stressed that there
was still a need for a wider law to include measures promised by
Macron such as minimum prices for food products and limiting
promotions that tend to squeeze farmers.

"'Good intentions' alone cannot transform years of
unbalanced relationships in terms trade negotiations," said Coop
de France, which brings together 2,600 farm cooperatives,
calling on the government to take further measures for farmers.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by David Evans)

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