The French government has called on farmers to lift road blockades “immediately” after two accidents which killed a fireman and left six police officers injured.
The 28-year-old firefighter died in the Val d’Oise after being “struck by a heavy goods vehicle” and six riot squad officers were hurt in a collision with a lorry “as part of the barricades put in place by cereal farmers,” Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier told French television.
One farming union, the FDSEA in Ile-de-France, said the man’s death had “nothing to do with” its action as the accident happened a kilometre away from the barricade.
The Val d’Oise prefecture said the fireman’s vehicle had struck the back of a lorry which had been halted by the blockades.
Farmers protesting the redistribution of funds under reforms to the European Agricultural Policy (CAP) have been disrupting traffic around the French capital.
“We’re mounting blockades here and there, there are already about ten around Paris. What we want to do is get an appointment with the Agriculture Minister Mr (Stéphane) Le Foll and if we don’t succeed, we will increase (the protests) until December 10th, the date when the reforms are due to be signed,” said Olivier Gousseau, spokesman for farmers in the Yvelines.
The changes to the CAP, approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday, will see more EU funds go towards livestock at the expense of cereal farms, which are common in the countryside around Paris.
The government admits the latter stand to lose 25 percent of the funds they receive under the CAP, but says it has to think of French agriculture as a whole.
“It’s a major political choice: fewer subsidies for cereal farmers indicates increased support for livestock farmers who have been suffering serious difficulties for a long time,” Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll told Le Figaro. “I accept the balancing which has been done in favour of these producers.”
The newspaper says figures from the National Agriculture Accounts Commission (CCAN) show that the average income of farms in the Ile-de-France region around Paris was 97,800 euros last year, five times more than the amount earned by those in the Limousin in southwest France.