France's anti-EU, anti-immigration and hard-right National Front (FN) has given its support to French farmers who are staging a protest in the capital.
More than 1,700 tractors arrived in Paris on Thursday morning in a boisterous protest by angry farmers and peasants, who are demanding aid as they face collapsing incomes and high taxes.
The farmers are seeking tax breaks from the French government and EU action to level the playing field with neighbouring countries, as they claim cheap imports and high payroll charges are making them unable to compete against Germany, much less Eastern Europe or beyond.
National Front's "total support"
In a tweet, the FN's deputy, Florian Philippot, said the party gave its "total support" to France's farmers, "crushed by the EU and (a) government under orders".
The post was followed by a series of photos published by the FN's MP Marion Maréchal-Le Pen - granddaughter of the FN's founder Jean-Marie Le Pen - in which she is seen meeting farmers near the National Assembly.
1,733 tractors, 5,000 farmers
According to the protest organiser, the National Federation of Agricultural Holders' Unions (FNSEA), six convoys -representing between 4000 and 5000 farmers and "1733 tractors - blocked highways and squeezed past tollbooths before descending on the Place de la Nation in eastern Paris.
Farmers from the west of France, Massif Central, Val-de-Loire, Bourgogne et Rhône-Alpes spray-painted slogans on their tractors (which weigh anywhere between 3 and 8 tonnes each) which read: "Enough working for not earning anything", "Help!", "Agriculture in danger" or "+ Prices, - Norms".
Some farmers said they planned to head to Parliament later in the day.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is advocating structural reforms in the farming sector, said he would meet with the FNSEA chief Thursday.
Protesters hoped to highlight the wider debate over European farming and how to keep it globally competitive, as well as what they claim are indirect consequences of the embargo imposed by Russia in response to the EU sanctions against her in the Ukrainian crisis.
A pan-European protest is also anticipated next Monday (7 September) as EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels.