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French Farmers Intensify Nationwide Protests Over Agricultural Crisis

French farmers have escalated their protests across the country, including in Brussels, against low wages, stringent regulations, rising costs, and other issues threatening their livelihoods. These demonstrations, intensifying since their inception in the southwest, have now reached the outskirts of Paris.

Farmers have been expressing their discontent by blocking highways and dumping crates of imported produce, such as tomatoes, cabbages, and cauliflowers, on major roads like the A7 highway linking Marseille and Lyon. Near Paris, tractors led a go-slow during the morning rush hour, adding to the disruptions.

The protests, now in their second week, are a response to what many farmers perceive as unsustainable pressures from food retailers to lower prices amidst high inflation. They have been turning road signs upside down since late last year to symbolise their frustration with what they see as illogical agricultural policies.

In a significant move, some farmers took their grievances to Brussels, home to EU headquarters, demanding action against the increasing constraints of European regulations and ever-lower incomes. This action reflects a broader sentiment among agriculture workers across Europe.

The French government, led by newly appointed Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, has been attempting to address these issues. Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau promised new proposals to tackle the crisis, including adjustments to food prices and simplification of regulations.

Arnaud Rousseau, head of France's major farmers union FNSEA, stated that the organisation would release a list of 40 necessary measures. He emphasised the need for quick results to alleviate the farmers' plight.

The protests have already had tragic consequences, with a traffic collision at a protest barricade resulting in the deaths of a farmer and her daughter. This incident underscores the severity of the situation and the high stakes involved.

Farmer discontent is particularly acute in the dairy sector, where producers claim that the government's anti-inflation efforts have undermined legislation designed to safeguard farm gate prices.

These protests represent a significant challenge for the French government and highlight the deep-seated issues within the agricultural sector. The situation demands urgent attention and solutions to ensure the sustainability of farming livelihoods in France.


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