Friday, 02 April 2021 10:40

French farmers protest to give ‘first warning to government’ Featured


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). EURACTIV France reports.

“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.

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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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One of the CAP’s main objectives is to “provide an essential income supplement for the marketing of raw materials that the market does not pay for at its fair value,” the FDSEA said on Twitter. But “what we are being sold is no longer interested in the reality of the market,” the farmers’ union added.

“The CAP is moving more and more towards financing environmental actions that are disconnected from the act of production,” the union went on to say, adding that it would leave behind anyone who “cannot fit into the planned boxes.”

For his part, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie has stepped up his messages in support of the sector, tweeting that there would be “no strong country without strong agriculture” and that it was necessary “to have the courage to finance our agriculture at its fair price”.