French farmers have been demonstrating against unfair competition from low-cost imports, EU laws, and inadequate compensation.
In response to protests from farmers, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has stated that he is enforcing restrictions on imported food items in order to ensure “fair competition.”
“The goal is clear: guaranteeing fair competition, especially so that regulations that are being applied to [French] farmers are also respected by foreign products,” Attal told MPs during his general policy statement at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
He declared that food sellers would face immediate fines for breaking a regulation designed to guarantee farmers receive a fair portion of the proceeds.
Attal stated, “We have to pay attention to the working farmers who are concerned about their livelihood and future.”
In addition, the prime minister said that he had brought together a coalition of 22 EU nations to consent to an EU waiver regarding fallow land.
He declared, “A new extension of the exemption is close to being achieved.”
Attal hailed the farm industry as “our force and our pride” and pledged that his government was prepared to handle the situation “without ambiguity”.
To be eligible for EU subsidies, farmers must fulfill a number of requirements, such as designating 4% of their land as “non-productive.”
For many days, farmers have been staging protests all around France to put pressure on the government to heed their requests for reduced red tape, better compensation for their produce, and defense against low-cost imports.
Earlier on Tuesday, farmers parked tractors across highways close to Paris and set fire to stacks of hay to partially obstruct access to Toulouse airport.
Attal announced pro-agriculture policies last week, but protestors rejected them as inadequate. More answers would be provided on Tuesday, the government pledged.
Using hundreds of heavy tractors and piles of bales of hay, protesting farmers surrounded Paris on Monday with traffic-clogging barricades, obstructing routes that lead to the French capital, which will play home to the Summer Olympics in six months. With tents and supplies of food and drink on hand, the protestors were ready for a protracted fight.
The government declared that it will send 15,000 police personnel, primarily to the Paris area, to thwart the demonstrators’ attempts to enter the nation’s capital.
At the Rungis market, Paris’s central location for fresh food supplies, there were additional officers and armored cars positioned.
Fearing that the demonstrations would get worse, the administration has abandoned plans to cut agricultural fuel subsidies and made a commitment to loosen environmental rules.
In the early hours of the morning, tractors stopped a roadway in Jossigny, near Paris, and thousands of farmers gathered around little fires, saying, “Whatever happens, we are determined to go to the end.” This was farmer Jean-Baptiste Bongard.
According to Bongard, “if the movement needs to last a month, then it will last a month.”
Tractors and bundles of hay blocked highway carriageways in Longvilliers, close to Paris, forcing other vehicles to use a sliproad.
Protests became more widespread.
On Tuesday, roadways were also stopped by Belgian farmers who were furious over EU environmental policies, cheap food imports, and growing costs.
Five lanes had been blocked by demonstrators, but automobiles were still able to pass, according to a port authority spokeswoman.
The General Farmers Syndicate, or Algemeen Boerensyndicaat (ABS) organization, invited its members to participate in the demonstration.
“The farmers are indeed in a desperate situation. The government has been forewarned for years that this would occur, according to ABS policy officer Mark Wulfrancke.
Our government, the European government, is the one we want to respect. Creating policies that are friendly to farmers and food is the only way to demonstrate this regard. We require an accurate pricing,” he said to the news agency Reuters.
The Spanish farmer’s associations declared on Tuesday that they would also be organizing demonstrations in February against the stringent laws in Europe and the absence of official backing.