Farmers in France are upset and are blocking roads to protest against the government’s push for lower food prices and strict environmental regulations. Many farmers are facing financial difficulties, and they believe their livelihoods are at risk as supermarkets demand lower prices after a period of high inflation.

The farmers argue that there are too many regulations, and they want to work more freely like farmers in neighboring countries. The head of a youth farmers’ union in Castelnaudary expressed the desire to produce and cultivate without excessive restrictions.

The leader of the powerful FNSEA farming union, Arnaud Rousseau, mentioned that the protests might even disrupt the Paris region. The farmers plan to outline their specific demands soon. Farming has been a contentious issue in France, a major agricultural producer in the European Union, with a history of disruptive farmer protests.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has already withdrawn a controversial draft farming law due to concerns about farmer unrest, influenced by protests in Germany, Poland, and Romania. Macron is also cautious about farmers leaning towards far-right politics, especially with the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The unrest is the first significant challenge for the new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and resonates across Europe. Farmers argue that they cannot make a decent living from their products, and as the EU’s Green Deal is implemented, they want increased costs and efforts reflected in product prices. There is also a call for imported goods to meet high environmental standards to prevent unfair competition.

A small group of French farmers even protested near the European Parliament in Brussels, emphasizing the need to stop being caught in the middle. In France, discontent is particularly strong in the dairy sector, where farmers feel that the government’s anti-inflation measures have undermined legislation meant to protect farmgate prices.

Dairy producers are currently in a dispute with Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy group, over prices, with talks scheduled with an arbitrator. Overall, farmers believe that if laws like EGALIM, designed to safeguard farm prices, are respected, there will be fewer protests. This situation highlights the challenges farmers face in balancing economic viability, environmental concerns, and government regulations in the changing landscape of European agriculture.

Credit to Reuters for the information.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/french-farming-protests-could-target-paris-union-chief-says-2024-01-24/

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