Monday, February 05, 2024 by Laura Harris
France’s new prime minister has promised emergency cash aid and controls on imported food to calm the anger of protesting farmers camped out around Paris.
The farmers, who brought heavy-duty tractors to highways in and around Paris as part of their protest, have been seeking better pay, fewer restrictive agricultural regulations and protection against unfair competition from abroad.
Protesters labeled the government’s so-called pro-agriculture measures as “insufficient.” French farmers say their incomes are still getting squeezed due to increasing costs of fertilizer and energy, which are necessary for growing crops and taking care of animals. They have threatened the government with moving into the capital in six months if their demands are not met. (Related: French farmers dump manure on government buildings to protest climate hysteria.)
In response, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal acknowledged the challenges and central demand of the protesting farmers during the policy speech at the National Assembly on Jan. 30. Attal promised emergency aid for struggling wine producers and expedited payments of European Union (EU) subsidies to farmers.
“We need to listen to the farmers, who are working and are worried about their future and their livelihood. The goal is clear: guaranteeing fair competition, especially so that regulations that are being applied to [French] farmers are also respected by foreign products,” he said.
Attal assured the farmers that no new pesticide ban would be implemented “without a solution.” He also announced an immediate ban on imports of fruits and vegetables treated with thiaclopride, an insecticide banned in the EU.
He also proposed the creation of a “European control force” to combat fraud, particularly regarding health regulations and to prevent the import of food products that do not meet European and French health standards. Attal also reiterated France’s opposition to the EU signing a free-trade deal with the Mercosur trade group.
Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau also announced the inclusion of a 150 million euro ($162 million) aid package for livestock farmers, a reduction in taxes on farms being transferred between generations, and a 2 billion euro ($2.16 billion) package for loans to new farmers.
Moreover, he announced immediate fines for food industrial groups and supermarkets that violate a 2018 law intended to ensure fair prices for farmers. Fines of up to two percent of sales revenues can now be imposed on companies that fail to comply.
These promises seem to have worked, as two major farmers’ unions in France have decided to suspend protests and lift road blockades across the country after the announcement.
Arnaud Gaillot, the president of the Young Farmers Union, and Arnaud Rousseau, the head of the umbrella organization the National Federation of Agricultural Holders’ Unions, jointly declared on Feb. 1: “We call on our members to suspend the blockades. We have been heard on a number of points, with tangible progress.”
However, not all farmers, particularly those camping out on highways near Disneyland, are convinced of the new measures.
Stéphane Chopin, an organic Charolais beef farmer, expressed frustration at the bureaucratic challenges and costs associated with sustaining organic practices while facing tough competition from countries with lower labor and living costs.
“We have been trying [to] make an effort for local produce, for the environment, for 20 years. We are trying, we are trying. Now we say stop,” he said.
President Emmanuel Macron is set to meet with the European Commission chief on Feb. 8 in Brussels to discuss the ongoing farming crisis. However, Macron has already defended the farm policy of the EU, stating that it is essential to sustaining European agriculture in a globalized economy.
“Without a common agricultural policy [in the EU], our farmers wouldn’t have revenue. Many of them would not be able to survive,” Macron said.
But this is not what the public is seeing in the EU, as protests have not been limited to France. Farmers in neighboring Belgium, Spain and Italy have also taken to the streets, demanding less bureaucracy and more financial support for their produce.
Follow Revolt.news to read more news about farmer protests around the world.
Watch this report warning about the disastrous state that Paris is in.
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