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WATCH: French Farmers Tighten Their Grip on Paris, as Government Scrambles To Appease Them

by Chelsea Betonie

As President Emmanuel Macron embarks on global visits to find a silver lining – beginning with India and now Sweden – France remains in turmoil due to the uprising of farmers.

The largest agricultural producer in Europe has come to a standstill as farmers besiege the capital city of Paris, while the newly appointed and inexperienced Prime Minister Gabriel Attal attempts to maintain stability.

In his most recent effort to pacify the situation, Attal announced the implementation of regulations on imported food products to ensure ‘fair competition’ amidst ongoing protests by farmers.

Associated Press reported:

“In his general policy speech at the National Assembly, Gabriel Attal told lawmakers ‘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 also said food retailers who don’t comply with a law meant to ensure a fair share of revenues for farmers will be fined, starting immediately. ‘We need to listen to the farmers, who are working and are worried about their future and their livelihood,” Attal said’.”

The ongoing farmers’ protest, which has lasted for several days, is demanding improved compensation for their agricultural products, reduced bureaucracy, safeguards against low-cost imports, and an end to burdensome environmental regulations.

They have set up camps near barricades in Paris to amplify their message that the process of cultivating and raising food has become excessively challenging and financially unrewarding.

“The farmers’ campaign for better pay, fewer constraints and lower costs has blown up into a major crisis for Attal in the first month of his new job. Protesters rejected pro-agriculture measures that Attal announced last week as insufficient. The government promised more responses would be forthcoming Tuesday.”

Paris was inundated with a multitude of tractors, trailers, and even roaring harvesters as they surrounded the city.

Accompanied by ample supplies of food, water, and tents, these determined individuals were prepared to establish barricades and hold their ground unless the government yielded.

In order to prevent protesters from entering the capital, the French government dispatched a total of 15,000 police officers. Additionally, armored vehicles were strategically placed at Paris’ Rungis market, which serves as a central hub for fresh food supplies. The farmers aim to raise awareness about the challenges they face in maintaining “organic methods” while contending with countries that have lower labor regulation costs.

“French farmers assert that higher prices for fertilizer, energy and other inputs for growing crops and feeding livestock have eaten into their incomes. Protesters also argue that France’s massively subsidized farming sector is over-regulated and hurt by food imports from countries where agricultural producers face lower costs and fewer constraints.”

Belgian farmers expressed their frustration with escalating expenses, EU environmental regulations, and the influx of low-cost food imports by staging a rebellion and obstructing entryways to the Zeebrugge container port on Tuesday.

Reuters reported:

“A port authority spokesman said protesters had blocked five roads to trucks, but were letting cars through. He said it was not yet clear what the consequences on the operations of the port would be, and the port was indirectly in touch with the organizers through the police.

[…] Belgian farmers also disrupted traffic during the morning rush hour on Tuesday. One of the blockades was close to the Dutch border on the E19 highway, media said.”

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo was to meet with farmers’ associations today.

“A group of farmers blocking a square in central Brussels with tractors said they would stay put until at least Thursday, when EU government leaders meet in the city.

‘We are asking them to review their laws’, said Nicolas Fryers, a farmer at the protest. ‘They talk about being greener but if that happens then there will be land which isn’t worked anymore and it’s difficult enough as it is’.”

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