French farmers protest to give ‘first warning to government’

As farmers’ protests calling for a fair income increase across France, farmers will protest on the streets of Île-de-France Friday (2 April) to denounce the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“France, do you still want your farmers?” Those are the words used to describe the protest organised on Friday in the Greater Paris region by the French agricultural union FDSEA.

Ile-de-France farmers “attached to the future of their profession” will protest to give a “first warning to the government”, according to a press release from the FDSEA and the Young Farmers association.

Farmers and agricultural unions oppose reform of the European CAP because it will “reduce the means of production so that a good number of farmers will cease their activity” and allow the French government to take measures that would ensure that agriculture becomes a sector “in danger of disappearing”.

For the farmers, it is also about sending a message “to our fellow citizens alerting them to the urgency of saving French agriculture” without which “our food autonomy and the preservation of our national quality production” cannot be guaranteed.

Producing more while reducing the impact on the climate and the environment: this is the challenge facing the agricultural world today, presented as one of the keys to a successful green transition by the French and European public authorities.

Farmers took to the streets on 9 March in the Massif Central region to demand prices be in line with production costs. And last week, thousands of farmers demonstrated in Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand, demanding via Twitter that changes be made to the so-called EGALIM law – a law that came into force in 2018 to balance trade relations in the agriculture and food sector and healthy, sustainable and accessible food for all.

The farmers called for a CAP “for farms, not firms” that “has the ambition to have many farmers, in all territories and in all productions”.

A Senate report published on 17 March noted the “immense distress” among French farmers, due in particular to the “low level of agricultural income and the feeling of denigration” of the profession by “constant agri-bashing”.

These two factors give farmers a feeling of “abandonment by society, creating a glaring discrepancy between the farmer’s vocation, that of feeding the population, and his fair recognition,” according to the report.

At a time when the yearly price negotiations for agri-food products were again bogged down at the start of March and the CAP reform in its current state requires farmers to make vast efforts to initiate an agroecological transition that many consider unworkable, farmers are venting their frustration.

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