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French farmers target Britons' hearts and stomachs

PARIS, June 27 (Reuters) - French farmers plan to offer gastronomic delights to newly arrived British tourists in a charm offensive designed to convince them of the benefits of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The European Union's 40-billion-euro a year CAP, which takes up almost half of EU spending, has been harshly criticised in Britain. Its subsidies largely benefit agricultural powerhouse France, which has vowed to defend them.

Farmers will entice British visitors with French farm products as they leave the cross-Channel ferries in the northern French port of Calais on July 1 in what they have dubbed "operation smile", the FDSEA, part of France's main farm union FNSEA, said in a statement on Monday.

"The idea is to offer English motorists some of our farm products and welcome them to a country known for its gastronomy and country life," the FDSEA union said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, under pressure over Britain's annual rebate from EU coffers, has called for a reduction in farm subsidies as part of a wider EU budget shake-up.

"Tony Blair has not stopped attacking French agriculture. His only aim is to break up the CAP and create one big free-trading market in Europe," the union said.

"French farmers don't want this unbridled liberalism."