French farmers continue protest against EU's green tyranny

Dozens of tractors rolled into Paris on Friday to oppose the EU’s environmental policies as French authorities are set to debate an 'agricultural sovereignty' bill in parliament this spring.

French farmers continue protest against EU's green tyranny
AP Photo/Thomas Padilla
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French farmers remain at odds with their government’s wacky green policies, forcing yet another round of protests in the nation’s capital. 

Dozens of tractors, carrying flags from Rural Coordination — the farmers’ union that staged the protest — entered Paris peacefully on Friday to demand more government support and simpler regulations.

Farmers across Europe have consistently opposed the EU’s environmental policies, including arbitrary emission targets that handicap industry and increase product costs over non-EU imports.

"Save our agriculture," Rural Coordination said on X. "Death is in the field," read one poster carried by a tractor.

On their way to the Paris Agricultural Fair, the convoy temporarily slowed traffic on the A4 highway, east of the capital, and on the Paris ring-road earlier Friday morning.

The protesters then posed with their tractors on a bridge over the Seine River with the Eiffel Tower in the background, before heading towards Vauban Square in central Paris, where they all gathered for the demonstration.

Cyril Hoffman, a cereal producer and avid member of Rural Coordination, said farmers want the government to “take action” against the European Union’s agriculture policies and their impact on domestic industry. 

Rural Coordination wants the farming industry to be exempted from free trade agreements, reported AP News

"They can make free trade agreements, but agriculture should not be part of them, so we can remain sovereign regarding our food," said Hoffman. "Only in France do we let our farming disappear," he added.

The protests follow a debate cancellation by President Emmanuel Macron with the agriculture sector and environmentalists, after his office controversially invited radical environmentalists in "error."

The group, Soulevements de la Terre, or "Uprisings of the Earth," have been called "eco-terrorists" by one French minister. Farmers protested in outrage, leading to the cancellation of the debate.

Dozens of police officers in riot gear tried to contain the protest on Friday, with reports of some clashes and one arrest. The farmers shouted expletives aimed at Macron. “This is our home!” they said.

"I'm saying this for all farmers: you're not helping any of your colleagues by smashing up stands," Macron told reporters. "You're not helping any of your colleagues by making the show impossible, and in a way scaring families away from coming."

The FNSEA, another farmer’s union, decided not to participate in the debate because "conditions for a peaceful dialogue are not met." Instead, they staged a less disruptive protest near the Fair.

The FNSEA acknowledged the Paris Agricultural Fair this year, which began Saturday, would be "eminently political."

The latest protest comes after farmers lifted roadblocks around Paris three weeks ago, following a 400 million euro funding package to offset low earnings, heavy regulation and 'unfair competition' abroad.

Government officials are set to propose an "agricultural sovereignty" bill which includes tax breaks, aid, and a pledge not to ban pesticides, with parliamentary debate set for the spring.

But other protests are being staged across France to ensure the government follows through on its promises.

Macron said he would meet instead with farmers before opening the fair Saturday. 

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  • By Sheila Gunn Reid

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