(Bloomberg) -- French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said banks will propose preferential lending to farmers as part of government efforts to defuse a crisis in the agriculture industry that has sparked weeks of protests.

Lenders including Credit Agricole SA and BNP Paribas SA will offer loans bearing interest rates between 0% and 2.5%, he said. Farmers in financial difficulty will also be able to negotiate a one-year suspension of existing loans and reschedule repayments for as long as three years beyond that.

“This will be a huge relief for all the farms in the biggest difficulty,” Le Maire said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Farmers in France, like in large parts of Europe, have been protesting against falling prices for their products and increasing climate-linked norms imposed on them by the European Union, which they claim are eroding their competitiveness in global markets.

Over the weekend, angry protesters stormed France’s annual agriculture fair in Paris and booed President Emmanuel Macron, who was opening the event.

Le Maire also said the government will bring forward the launch of a system of guarantees for €2 billion ($2.2 billion) of loans to help farmers invest in their operations by two months to May.

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