With Doux going into administration early June, French breeders are asking the government to ensure they continue to receive feed and gas supplies, in order to stay in business until the future of the company is resolved, Reuters reports.
The farmers, who need to keep feeding thousands of chickens and turkeys for Doux, fear they may have trouble paying their bills as they await cash from the company, which is struggling with a 340 million euro ($423.5 million) debt pile, unions said.
France's new Socialist government has taken an active role in managing the situation as it tries to avoid a wave of factory closures after unemployment hit its highest level since 1999. French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll is due to meet with Doux employees' unions on Thursday.
oux, 80 percent family-owned with the remainder held by French bank BNP Paribas, has contracts with some 800 poultry breeders in addition to the 3,400 staff it employs in France.
t received approval from a local court on Tuesday to sell Stanven, a non-core pet food plant, to Germany's Saria. The roughly 19 million euros in proceeds will be used to pay current suppliers.
"The situation has eased slightly with Doux's sale of the Stanven plant in Plouray, but we don't know how long it will last, and breeders remain under high pressure as they are asked to sign checks when they are insolvent," said Didier Lucas, head of a local branch of France's largest farm union, FNSEA.
Several companies and cooperatives are in talks over a partial or full takeover of Doux, one of the world's largest poultry exporters.
Two competitors, LDC and Terrena, are due to visit Doux's chicken slaughter and processing plant in Brittany on Thursday, a company union member said, adding that another competitor, Duc, had already visited last week.
Doux's legal administrators said bids to acquire the group should be placed by July 2 at the court overseeing the reorganisation.
The poultry firm pledged to pay its bills after June 1, when it went into administration, but it owes some breeders amounts exceeding 100,000 euros, FNSEA said.
Doux once paid for all supply chain costs from eggs to chicks, feed, gas, processing, packaging and exporting.
But the company's troubles have hurt many suppliers, including farmers who have ceased supplying Doux feed plants, which has created hiccups in deliveries of feed to breeders, Masson said.
"Wheat, soybean, mineral suppliers have already delivered hundreds of thousands tonnes that were not paid for," Michel Masson, head of the regional FNSEA branch in Central France said. Now "they deliver only against payment - no payment, no delivery", he said.
Farmers also have to pay for the gas needed to heat hen houses, something Doux used to do before June 1.
Source: Reuters www.reuters.com