Protesting French farmers head for Paris in tractors

French farmers are staging nationwide protests demanding government action on low farmgate prices, fuel and tax hikes, green regulation, red tape and food imports that threaten their livelihoods.

Mass farmer protests have been staged in recent weeks in Germany, the Netherlands and Romania against EU environmental targets and anti-farming policies.

French farmers are now in their second week of protests, which broke out in the South West.

See also: German farmers stage tractor protests over government subsidy cuts

Angry farmers have been swamping the streets of France with hundreds of sheep, including in the centre of Draguignan, a town in the Provence region.

Farmers have created straw and tyre barricades on roads, run tractor drive-slows and dumped and sprayed manure on government offices and public buildings. Crates of cheap imported produce have also been strewn across highways.

The protests are being led by the National Federation of Farmers Unions (FNSEA) and the Young Farmers (Jeunes Agriculteurs) union. According to FNSEA president Arnaud Rousseau, almost 85 departments are taking part.

A massive farmer protest is taking place in Paris today (Friday 26 January), with hundreds of tractors and farm vehicles headed for the capital. Media reports suggested that Paris has approximately three days left of food supplies and the farmer blockades threaten to cut off new supplies.

New PM challenge

The protests are the first political test for France’s newly appointed prime minster, Gabriel Attal.

The FNSEA has handed the government a list of 40 “clear” demands by farmers, including laws to safeguard farmgate prices, continued red diesel tax breaks for agricultural vehicles, immediate payment of EU farm subsidies, no new bans on pesticides and better compensation after disasters.

Mr Attal held a crisis meeting with finance, environment and agriculture ministers on Thursday 25 January.

France’s ministry of agriculture said Mr Attal would make an announcement on Friday designed to ease the crisis, including “concrete proposals for simplification measures”.

The farmer protests have not spread to the UK, but there is widespread frustration within the industry over the transition away from direct payments and concerns that a lack of support for food production could see more land increasingly lost to environmental schemes.

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