The French Government announced yesterday that it will cut the tax bills paid by its farmers by the equivalent of €500m.

French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls made the announcement yesterday in response to widespread protests by French farmers over huge falls in farmgate prices over the past year.

He said the Government will help French breeders and livestock sectors through what he called an 'extraordinary crisis' in terms of 'intensity and duration'.

Faced with this crisis resulting from extremely low prices, especially for milk and pork but also beef and grains, the Prime Minister Valls says his Government has moved 'relentlessly'.

The French Government has also looked for increased EU supports to improve market prices for dairy and pigmeat products in particular.

It says structural responses are needed at EU level, given the European dimension of the crisis.

The French proposals include an increase in the floor price at which producers can sell into public storage, an export credit facility, and crucially aid for farmers who cut output when prices fall.

French farmer protest have included blocking roads and dumping manure, straw and earth in front of public buildings and supermarkets.

European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan will meet with the French Prime Minister and his Minister for Agriculture next week with discussions likely to center around the French proposals.

Commissioner has said that EU Member states have until February 26, to come up with solutions to the current market difficulties but warned that proposals must fit within the legal framework of the CAP and within the resources of the Commission.