France will cut social contributions paid by farmers in a measure worth 500 million euros ($556 million) in an attempt to counter a crisis in the livestock sector, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told parliament on Wednesday.

The government has been trying to defuse protests by farmers angered by persistently low dairy and meat prices, and has also turned to the European Union to obtain extra aid.

The tax cuts, which are in addition to hundreds of millions of euros in aid granted by France to livestock farmers since last summer, would benefit all farmers and take immediate effect, Valls said.

The livestock sector has been hurt by oversupply and falling prices, partly linked to a Russian embargo on EU food products.