French farmers are committing suicide on an almost daily basis, largely due to financial pressures arising from a crisis in agriculture. The problem is not just a French one; all over the European Union farmers are struggling to survive amid falling prices for products such as milk and pork.
While global economic conditions are a factor, dairy farmers in the EU have been hit particularly hard because of a decision to end milk quotas. A sector that was for decades fixed and regulated by Brussels has been opened to the vagaries of internal and external market forces.
Coinciding with a fall in global demand for milk and a Russian embargo, the result has been disastrous for farmers, many of whom have tragically taken their lives. Campaigner Jacques Jeffredo believes some 600 committed suicide every year:
“It’s a phenomenon that is the same in other European countries,” he tells Reporter. “We can talk about Germany, where the numbers are a minimum of 500, then 400 in Belgium and in Italy there are a lot of suicides as well.”