France Takes Broader Steps to Calm Rising Farmers’ Protests

France Takes Broader Steps to Calm Rising Farmers’ Protests

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has announced new measures to address the ongoing farmers’ protests in France. Attal stated that controls on foreign food products would be implemented to ensure fair competition and the compliance of regulations by foreign products. Food retailers who fail to comply with a law aimed at ensuring a fair share of revenues for farmers will face immediate fines. Attal emphasized the importance of listening to farmers and addressing their concerns about their future and livelihood. In addition, the prime minister revealed that a coalition of 22 European Union countries has been formed to seek an EU waiver on fallow land, with progress towards an extension of the exemption being made. Attal assured that the government is committed to resolving the crisis without ambiguity and expressed admiration for the agriculture sector as a source of strength and pride.

The ongoing protests by farmers across France have intensified, with farmers demanding better remuneration, reduced bureaucracy, and protection against cheap imports. Protests have involved setting hay bales on fire to disrupt access to Toulouse airport and blocking highways near Paris with tractors. Protesting farmers have rejected the pro-agriculture measures announced by Attal, deeming them insufficient. In response to the protests, the government has deployed 15,000 police officers, primarily in the Paris region, to prevent the protesters from entering the capital. Measures to reduce subsidies on agricultural diesel have been dropped, and environmental regulations are expected to be eased.

The farmers’ protests have also spread to neighboring Belgium, where farmers blocked roads to express their discontent over rising costs, cheap food imports, and EU environmental policies. The Belgian farmers’ union, Algemeen Boerensyndicaat (ABS), called on its members to join the protests, highlighting the desperation felt by farmers and the need for a farmer-friendly and food-friendly policy that ensures a fair price. Spanish farmer’s associations have also announced upcoming protests in February to voice their grievances against strict European regulations and the lack of governmental support.

The ongoing farmers’ protests in France and Belgium highlight the deep concerns and frustrations within the agricultural sector. The governments are facing pressure to address these concerns and offer meaningful solutions to ensure the sustainability and profitability of farming.

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