No end to farmers protests around Europe

Farmers around Europe have been taking part in protests demanding changes and better treatment. Demonstrations are ongoing, with no end in sight.

Farmers around Europe have been taking part in protests demanding changes and better treatment, including Belgium, Poland and France.

On 26th February, Belgian capital was blocked by 900 tractors. Angry farmers drove into Brussels, heading towards the European Council building, where ministers were discussing concerns raised by the farming community. 

Farmers protest against what they call the slow death of working the land, killed off by red tape, competition from cheap imports, and new EU environmental measures. 

Polish farmers have also been carrying out demonstrations, which included blocking a border crossing with Slovakia. The protest, which has also been taking place in the Polish capital, Warsaw, aims to show farmers’ dissatisfaction with food imports from Ukraine and the European Union’s ‘green deal’ regulations. 

Dialog over confrontation

On Saturday 24th February French president Emmanuel Macron was greeted with boos and whistles at the opening of the Paris Agricultural Show. The protesters claim that he is not doing enough to support farmers. 

As the president entered the show’s livestock area, hundreds of demonstrators crashed the gates and clashed with police. 

On the day, Macron attended a two-hour meeting with the leaders of the three main farmers unions: the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles (FNSEA), Jeunes Agriculteurs and Coordination Rurale. 

He then said: “I always prefer dialogue to confrontation. I am telling you that work is being done on the ground, we are in the process of simplifying things.” 

Farmers from Spain, Portugal and Italy have also been protesting. Thousands of Spanish farmers recently gathered outside the agriculture ministry in central Madrid, holding banners: “The countryside is in the abyss and the government doesn’t care.” 

READ MORE: German farmers continue nationwide protests against diesel subsidy cuts 

Backed by the Prime Minister

At the end of last week, PM Rishi Sunak publicly backed protesting farmers in Wales while meeting them at the Welsh Conservative conference in Llandudno. He said: “We’re going to do everything we can because we’ve got your back.” 

Welsh farmers are unhappy with the latest proposals for the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), which include a requirement for farmers to dedicate 10% of agricultural land to planting trees and earmark another 10% for wildlife habitat. 

During the annual NFU Conference PM Sunak pledged never to take food security for granted and to be “by your side” as farmers face the biggest change in a generation with the ongoing transition away from basic payments.

READ MORE: Police warn farmers ahead of largest protest in Welsh history

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