PARIS — The French government will ease restrictions on grain transport on the river Seine during this year’s Olympics in response to industry concerns about disruption at harvest time in the European Union’s (EU) biggest grain producing country.

The Seine is a major route to transport crops to the northern port of Rouen, France’s biggest grain export terminal. Industry association Intercereales estimates around 1 million metric tons of grain take the route in the peak harvest period from mid-July to mid-August that this year coincides with the Paris Olympic games.

The closure of the Seine to traffic in the capital before the July 26 opening ceremony, which will take place along the river, will last six and a half days, compared with previous plans for just over a week, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau said on Thursday.

The riverside opening ceremony will be first time the public has free access to an Olympics inauguration and is a major security challenge for the authorities, who expect some 300,000 people to attend.

The government this week scrapped plans to force booksellers along the Seine to remove their stalls for the ceremony in response to their opposition.

Speaking alongside representatives of Intercereales, Mr. Fesneau also announced that river locks will be closed at midnight, rather than the usual 8 p.m. during the games.

That will allow grain barges to advance along the river and make up for day-time restrictions when the Seine will be used for swimming competitions.

River docks will also be made available for grain barges to wait during navigation closures in Paris, Mr. Fesneau said.

The authorities will assess the financial impact on the grain sector from the river restrictions, he added.

The farming sector has become an urgent issue for the government after nationwide protests in the last month voiced anger at low income, environmental regulation and cheap imports.

France is supporting calls from the grain sector to be included in emergency measures to limit EU imports from Ukraine. — Reuters