The Farmers’ Protest
We have seen farmers taking their tractors to the streets and their complaints to the forefront. What began in France has quickly spread across Europe with farmers relating to the struggles they face under EU rules.
Two unions, the FNSEA and the Paris region branch of the Young Farmers, set a goal to “blockade” Paris. The farmers are blocking major access points into Paris placing pressure on the Government to hear their concerns of wages, environmental policies which according to Le Monde they say, undermine their ability to compete with other countries and they continue to gain support.
The reasons for the protests
- ABC business news report that the EU has waived quotas on imports from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, in an attempt to boost Ukraine’s economy.
- The farmers are worried they cannot compete with other producers which do not have so many regulations. If the consumer can find it cheaper elsewhere, they will leaving the farmers in France struggling.
- Since the Russian- Ukraine war began in 2022, energy costs has risen dramatically which has been effecting farmers who rely on tractors, harvesters and other equipment. The rise in cost for farmers is not reflecting the cost that farmers are able to charge for their produce.
- EU rules which govern the farming industry and harm the profit they are able to make. The EU rules meant that farmers were having to set aside 4% of their arable land free from crop production, this is in an effort to regenerate the health of the soil and increase biodiversity. Due to the extreme weather conditions, flooding, fires and drought this rule expects farmer to lose out on owned land which could be used to increase profit in an already difficult environment.
How it’s going so far
The protesting reached a rise on Wednesday when 10,000 French farmers with at least 100 blockades taking over major roads across France. The protesting is spreading across Europe as Belgian farmers joined at the border blocking roads to the Zeebrugge container port for a second day. Reports that Spanish and Italian farmers were also demonstrating this week too.
The widespread discontentment from farmers in Europe have put pressure on the EU and the government to step up to aid their farmers.
The farmers won their first concession from Brussels with the EU announcing a delay in rules that would have forced them to set aside land to regenerate biodiversity, they will now not be obliged to set aside any land until 2025.
French Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal stated that France will write the principle of “food sovereignty” into law aiming to appease the protestors.
Protestors have blocked major roads used for trading, have torn down a statue outside of where the summit was happening, thrown stones at the parliamentary building in Brussels and started fires nearby, all to make themselves heard. Tractors are displaying banners such as,
“If you love the earth, support those who manage it.”
The farmers are resolute in making their concerns heard and it seems they won’t stop until they feel their complaints have been appropriately considered and dealt with.