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France farmer protests over

France farmer protests over

The French government capitulates to French farmer concerns after a weeks-long blockage of Paris.

By Andrew Joseph,; Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay

It’s over.

Two of France’s main farmers’ unions asked their members to end the protest that was blocking access in and out of the capital city of Paris after the government agreed to their demands.

The French farmers took no pleasure in harassing their fellow countrymen. But it appears as though their hold on the arteries going in and out of the capital worked, as the French government agreed to many of their demands.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, just three weeks into the job, had failed with his initial attempt to quell the blockade that was starving Parisians of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. His second attempt went much better.

The French protest was initiated after farmers said their concerns were being ignored by the government.

French farmers were angry over rising input costs, increased taxes, falling income, and European agriculture policies.

With regards to its European neighbours, French farmers were upset about its government purchasing too much agricultural product from Ukraine.

Understanding that Ukraine is at war with Russia and can use financial aid, French farmers railed against its government for being too generous in flooding the market with Ukrainian goods, not to mention that they believe much of the Ukrainian products to be substandard to expected French food quality.

Worse still, for the French farmers, the Ukrainian products were being sold at a cheaper price than their own. For French farmers, purchasing too many substandard and inexpensive Ukrainian agricultural products had affected their livelihood while lowering the accepted food standards for consumers.

The French farmers said they had been raising their concerns to the government for years, but to finally get their point across, a tractor blockade at every roadway leading in and out of Paris caught not only the government’s attention but the attention of other European countries facing similar shortcomings.

By way of apology and righting the situation, Attal said the government wants French ag to come first—French food products, produced in France, by its farmers.

As well, the French government said it would create a $162 million financial aid package for its farmers.

A financial aid package worth over CDN $215 million was promised for French livestock farmers.

As well, the Prime Minister said there would be a ban on the import of fruit and vegetables treated with thiacloprid, an insecticide that may be harmful to honeybees.

Thiacloprid has been banned in the EU since 2019, but both Canada and the US allow its use, though only for limited purposes in Canada.

Most importantly, the France plan—which follows the UK and EU’s plans—to reduce pesticide usage has been put on hold. While pesticide reduction is still being considered, the French government said it wants to implement an easier way for farmers to reduce pesticide usage while maintaining its yield quantity and quality. It just doesn’t know how to do that yet.

The farmers’ action wasn’t a complete blockage. After a lengthy delay, vehicles at all access points were allowed to make their way.

It wasn’t all just blocking traffic; however, some farmers dumped manure in front of local government buildings, while others dumped rotting fruit and bales of hay in public squares.

Although France’s Paris blockage is considered to be over as of February 2, 2024, 18 protesters were arrested on January 31. Those arrested were trying to manoeuvre their ag vehicles to the Rungis wholesale food market south of Paris.

Rungis is a food terminal where many supermarkets, stores, and restaurants purchase their ag supplies. However, arrests were made as the farmers were turned back by police from entering the 578-acre site. Unfortunately, 18 people were less inclined to listen to the authorities.

Still later that day, some protesters made it into the food terminal, resulting in additional arrests, taking the total to 79 people.

Despite causing French travel to be delayed, the farmers appeared to have the support of much of the populace, with supportive car honking being the norm rather than angry horn blasting.

Although the concerns of farmers from France seem to have been heard and answered, protests continue in other countries—Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Poland, and more.

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