News

French PM to visit farm as agricultural unions vow Paris 'siege'

By AFP

January 28, 2024 10:30 AM


Farmers of the CR47 union (Coordination rurale 47), next to French flag on a tractor, attend a blocking of the A62 highway near Agen, southwestern France, on January 27, 2024. AFP

Twitter Share Facebook Share WhatsApp Share

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal will visit a cattle farm on Sunday, his office said, as agricultural unions prepare to mount a "siege" on the French capital to pressure the government into meeting their demands on pay, tax and regulations.

The leaders of two of France's largest farming unions said Saturday that members from the regions around Paris "will begin an indefinite siege of the capital."

"All the major roads leading to the capital will be occupied by farmers," they added.

Farmers from the Lot-et-Garonne region, one of the hotspots of the protest movement in southern France, had already announced their intention to "go to Paris" on Monday.

They intend to blockade the massive Rungis wholesale food market south of the capital.

French farmers are furious at what they say is a squeeze on purchase prices for produce by supermarket and industrial buyers, as well as complex environmental regulations.

But the last straw for many was the phasing-out of a tax break on diesel for farm equipment.

Attal's visit to a cattle farm in the western region of Indre-et-Loire comes two days after he announced a number of concessions following blockades by farmers of major routes into Paris and in the south of the country.

"You wanted to send a message, and I've received it loud and clear," said Attal, who is facing his first major crisis as prime minister.

- 'Ready to explode' -

Attal said the government would "put an end" to the rising cost of diesel fuel used for farming machinery, a consequence of tax breaks on the fuel having been phased out.

There would also be an emergency fund to help cattle farmers battle illnesses among their livestock.

Early on Saturday, some roadblocks were being lifted and traffic began running normally on motorways.

But the latest announcement by the FNSEA farmers' union and the Jeunes Agriculteurs ("Young Farmers"), which together represent most farmers in France, puts the pressure back on Attal.

His concessions have "not calmed the anger, we need to go further", said FNSEA President Arnaud Rousseau.

"We have a government that doesn't care about its farmers," said Lucie Delbarre, general secretary of the Pas-de-Calais FDSEA branch.

"As you can see, it's a pressure cooker ready to explode."

- 'Set a course' -

The demonstrators have also attacked free trade agreements between the European Union and food exporters, especially a deal with the South American bloc Mercosur that is still in the works.

One group of protesters hung an effigy of a farmer in overalls from mock gallows by the A10 motorway west of Paris.

But farmers appeared to be divided over whether Attal's concessions were enough.

The government has been trying to keep discontent among farmers from spreading just months ahead of European Parliament elections, which are seen as a key test for President Emmanuel Macron's government.

Francois Ruffin, a lawmaker with the left-wing France Unbowed (LFI) party, said the government needed to "set a course for French agriculture".

"We need to tell it what it should be doing: is its aim to compete with factory farms in Brazil or Ukraine, or is its aim to feed the French properly?"

 


AFP


Most Read

  1. Public Holiday announced in Lahore tomorrow Public Holiday announced in Lahore tomorrow
  2. Hina Rizvi ties the knot with Ammar Ahmed Khan Hina Rizvi ties the knot with Ammar Ahmed Khan
  3. Police claim girl seen in sub-inspector’s video was his second wife Police claim girl seen in sub-inspector’s video was his second wife
  4. Complete results: PML-N sweeps by-elections as PTI-SIC remains empty-handed in Punjab Complete results: PML-N sweeps by-elections as PTI-SIC remains empty-handed in Punjab
  5. Iranian First Lady visits Numl Iranian First Lady visits Numl
  6. Nazish Jahangir to hit any marriage proposal from Babar Azam out of the ground Nazish Jahangir to hit any marriage proposal from Babar Azam out of the ground

Opinion

  1. Islamabad becoming the hub of international diplomacy
    Islamabad becoming the hub of international diplomacy

    By Salim Bokhari

  2. Insights into the Pakistan Stock Exchange's Recent Record High Triumph
    Insights into the Pakistan Stock Exchange's Recent Record High Triumph

    By Zulfiqar Ali Mir

  3. IMEC to sabotage CPEC
    IMEC to sabotage CPEC

    By Dr Asif Channer

  4. 1947 TO FORM 47
    1947 TO FORM 47

    By Dr Asif Channer

  5. Beijing wants to further highlight industrial sector in its country and take scientific innovation to new heights....
    Beijing wants to further highlight industrial sector in its country and take scientific innovation to new heights....

    By Ali Ramay

  6. Global race: China will reduce its unnecessary expenses
    Global race: China will reduce its unnecessary expenses

    By Ali Ramay