French farmers dig in for Brexit game of chicken

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PRUILLE-LE-CHETIF, France (Reuters) – French poultry farmer Isabelle Leballeur is fed up with European trade agreements that allow low-cost chicken into France and is determined to stop post-Brexit Britain getting that kind of deal.

Along with other farmers, she is pressing France’s president to scuttle any accord that lets Britain ease food safety rules — part of the reason the European Union is insisting on a level playing field in trade relations with its former member.

“You can’t have a different way of doing things when it comes to regulatory standards,” Leballeur said at her family-run farm in western France, where she has reduced the density of broilers in her rearing sheds to meet EU welfare commitments.

The British government has said it will not relax food and environmental standards. But if it wants its own post-EU trade deal with the United States, it may come under pressure to do exactly that.

“Everyone knows that American chicken is dunked in chlorine,” she said. “It’s a practice you’ll never see in France.”

Leballeur, who raises 250,000 chickens each year on her farm in the hills outside Le Mans, frets Britain will escape European regulations.
Asked how President Emmanuel Macron should respond to any British attempt to break free from EU regulatory alignment, Leballeur responded: “No deal. There’s no doubt”.
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