Farmers in Belgium joined a wave of agricultural protests sweeping across Europe, causing significant disruption on Sunday by blocking a key motorway.
The demonstration is part of a broader movement of discontent among farmers in the region, which has led to turmoil and protest actions in countries like France and Germany, AFP reported.
In Belgium, farmers slowed traffic to a standstill on the E42 motorway near Namur, using dozens of tractors to block the interchange. Displaying Belgian and union flags, as well as banners with messages like "If we die, you will starve" and "a childhood dream has become a nightmare," the protesters voiced their deep frustrations.
The impact of the protests was felt even in sports, as a match between FC Genk and Sint-Truiden was delayed by 30 minutes due to farmer demonstrations outside the stadium.
Pierre d'Hulst, a spokesperson for the FJA federation of young farmers, highlighted the financial challenges facing farmers, citing it as "impossible to earn a decent wage."
The federation demands a more realistic common agricultural policy, emphasizing the need for farmers to live decently while adapting to fewer resources. D'Hulst also pointed out the unfair competition from imported goods not subject to the same stringent environmental standards.
The protests extended to Mons, where about 100 tractors circled the city's ring road during its festival of lights on Saturday. European farmers are expressing their grievances over stifling legislation, eroding living standards due to inflation, and the competitive threat posed by cheaper imports.
The FWA farmers union, expressing its dissatisfaction on its website, called for a re-evaluation of the efforts of those who feed the populace daily. In France, agricultural unions have announced plans to "siege" Paris, blocking major roads and the Rungis wholesale food market to pressure the government on issues of pay, tax, and regulations.
Similar protests have erupted in Germany, Poland, Romania, and the Netherlands, with the European Union facing pressure to address these concerns.