Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

The anger of farmers spreads in Europe

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Farmers in France participate in blocking the A35 motorway in Strasbourg, France.

Agence France-Presse

The mobilization of French farmers increased on Wednesday with an increase in blockages. Nearly a week after starting in Occitania, the movement now affects the entire country. The unease of the peasant world is also expressed in Poland, where farmers have blocked more than 160 roads.

In France, farmers are demanding concrete responses from the government, which says it has heard the call and promises announcements in the days to come.

Mourning by the accidental deaths of a breeder and her daughter on Tuesday at a roadblock, the movement says it has drawn additional rage.

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A car drove into a farmers' roadblock on Tuesday, killing a 35-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter.

Margins of mass distribution, fallow land, pesticides, environmental standards, administrative authorizations, price of diesel… Farmers and breeders do not all have the same demands, but they share the same discomfort, torn between the desire to produce and the need to reduce their impact on biodiversity and climate.

It's generally fed up, we've been trying to tell our politicians for months, but nothing is moving, Julien Duchateau, a farmer in Pas-de-Calais (north), told AFP.

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There is a lot of unhappiness among the farmers, Patricia also noted Dagoré, farmer in the Basque Country (southwest) and member of the majority union FNSEA.

More and more standards are being imposed on us. But how to apply them? Implementing them all costs. Today, we all have a rope around our necks, our cash flow is in the red, she continued during the blocking of a highway in Bayonne (southwest) on Tuesday evening.

Also in the South-West, demonstrators threw a bale of straw into a McDonald's restaurant in Agen, while 200 tractors have been blocking the Bordeaux ring road since Wednesday morning. We intend to stay there until we have concrete answers, launched Serge Bergeon, local manager of the FNSEA.

A minute of silence was observed in tribute to the breeder in her thirties and her teenage daughter hit by a car on a dam on Tuesday in Pamiers (Ariège, in the French Pyrenees). We have the rage to continue, for this family who died. They were like us, passionate…, said Yoan Joannic, 20 years old, cereal producer south of Bordeaux.

The three main unions in the profession were received between Monday and Tuesday by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. Without calling for the exit blockages to be lifted.

Blocking roads is a way to quickly obtain decisions, underlined Arnaud Rousseau, president of the FNSEA, dismissing this stage a possible blockage of Paris.

He specified that his union would state its demands on Wednesday evening. Not all unions are on the same line. Laurent Thérond, a spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne in Vaucluse (south-east), describes the leaders of the FNSEA as pyromaniac firefighters by criticizing their productivist approach.

In this region, a convoy of around 70 tractors took the Autoroute du Soleil, at the Orange toll, to go up towards the Drôme further north, and were joined by farmers of this department, where the two processions cut the highway near Montélimar.

Multiple roundabouts, tolls or ramps x27;motorways have been busy in recent hours, not counting snail operations, in many regions or the interception of a Spanish truck whose load – frozen vegetables – was emptied on the road.Open in full screen mode

Farmers drive their tractors on the highway, Wednesday January 24, 2024, near from Strasbourg, in eastern France.

Faced with discontent, the government said on Wednesday that it had heard the farmers' call. The executive will make announcements in the coming days, said government spokesperson Prisca Thevenot, assuring that there was no question of coming to prevent road blockages. She mentioned avenues under study on the taxation of non-road diesel (GNR) and cash advances.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal is committed to getting on the ground very quickly, she added. The latter said on Tuesday that there would be a floor on the remuneration of farmers by manufacturers and supermarkets, as well as on administrative simplification.

While other major European agricultural countries are experiencing similar movements, the European Commission will bring together agricultural organizations, the agri-food sector, NGOs and experts on Thursday.

Polish farmers also blocked more than 160 roads across the country to denounce uncontrolled imports of Ukrainian agri-food products and demand a review of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has promised that his pro-European government, which came to power in Poland following parliamentary elections in October, will try to find solutions in bilateral negotiations with Kiev. p>Open full screen

Protesting farmers in Poland drive their tractors slowly on a road in Deblin, Poland, Wednesday, January 24, 2024, to disrupt traffic and attract attention to their disagreement with European Union regulations.

There are more than 160 blockages of roads and traffic routes across Poland, Adrian Wawrzyniak, spokesperson for the Solidarity of Individual Farmers (Solidarnosc RI) union, which coordinated This protest movement is planned to last from noon to 2 p.m. local time.

A farmer is not a farm hand, L' Agriculture is slowly dying, proclaimed signs displayed by farmers.

Participating in a road blockade in Juszczyn, near Wroclaw (southwest), Mr. Wawrzyniak welcomed this demonstration which brought together more than 140 tractors.

After his visit to Kiev on Monday and following a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, the head of government declared that he wanted to protect Polish agriculture in the face of unfair competition from the East.

We will seek to include better provisions in a bilateral agreement, according to which […] it will be possible to sell Ukrainian products in Poland only with the consent of Polish institutions, Tusk said. According to him, it won't take much time.

The prime minister added that his government will find a solution which may not arouse enthusiasm in Brussels, but which will not clearly violate European law and which will probably be difficult, but acceptable to the Ukrainians. p>

Mr. Tusk did not release additional details. We will do this regardless of farmers' protests, he stressed.

For his part, the Polish Minister of Agriculture, Czeslaw Siekierski, who participated in a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, underlined in a press release that the excessive opening of the European Union (EU) and the influx of goods from outside the Union, including from Ukraine, caused significant disruptions on the Polish market, and that the lack of profitability of production agricultural sector is visible in most EU member states.

According to Wieslaw Gryn of the La Campagne trompeée movement, the spring of nations is in breaking out […] It is not only in Poland that bitterness is overflowing. Farmers have been blocking Paris, Berlin and Bucharest for weeks, he told the daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

According to him, this is the consequence of what the EU offers us in the form of the Green Deal, a package of measures aimed at putting the EU on the path to ecological transition.

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