French farmers took to the streets on Friday, blocking major highways and burning tires in front of government buildings to protest against low food prices and what they perceive as excessive bureaucracy. The nationwide protests, organized by unions, are aimed at pressuring Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s government, which farmers accuse of not doing enough to address their concerns.
Tractors and bales of hay disrupted the main motorway linking Paris with the northern city of Lille and Belgium, causing extensive traffic jams. The FNSEA union, representing farmers, declared that roadblocks would encircle the city, but there were no plans to enter Paris itself.
🔴Colère des agriculteurs
🗣️"On ne peut pas rentrer sans réponses concrètes, donc on attend que le Premier ministre nous invite demain pour répondre à nos revendications", explique le président de la FNSEA, Arnaud Rousseau. pic.twitter.com/5jh4Zf1tsG
— TF1Info (@TF1Info) January 26, 2024
The demonstrations follow days of disruptions, including tractor convoys through major cities and protests in front of government buildings. The farmers’ grievances center around low food prices, late payment of European Union subsidies, rising fuel costs, and competition from imports.
In response to the growing crisis, Prime Minister Attal visited a farm near the Spanish border, where he announced key concessions aimed at addressing farmers’ concerns. These include an end to rising fuel costs, the simplification of regulations, and a commitment to put agriculture above everything else. However, some farmers remain dissatisfied, demanding more substantial changes.
“We are not satisfied with what was announced this evening. A few requests have been met, but it is not enough,” stated Alexandre Plateau, a representative of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA). Laurence Marandola, a spokesperson for the Peasant Confederation union body, labeled Attal’s concessions as “very largely insufficient.”
Protests continue in various parts of France, with blockades reported on major roads, including the Lyon region to the Spanish border. The farmers vow to persist with their mobilization until the government takes more meaningful actions to address their concerns.
The ongoing unrest marks the first major challenge for Prime Minister Attal, who assumed office at the beginning of the month. The demonstrations initially erupted in the southwest of France last week, intensifying after a tragic incident on Tuesday when a farmer and her 12-year-old daughter were killed in a car crash at a roadblock south of Toulouse.
France’s agricultural protests coincide with similar demonstrations in other European countries, including Germany and Belgium, highlighting a broader concern among farmers across the continent. The situation remains tense as the government attempts to navigate the complex issues at the heart of the farmers’ discontent.
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