Angry french farmers greet President Emmanuel Macron at Paris agriculture fair

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, speaks with farmers as he visits the International Agriculture Fair on the opening day in Paris, Feb. 24, 2024.
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, speaks with farmers as he visits the International Agriculture Fair on the opening day in Paris, Feb. 24, 2024. Copyright Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP
Copyright Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP
By Euronews with AP
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Farmers across the EU argue the bloc's environmental regulations, including initiatives like the Green Deal, hamper their operations and render their products less competitive against non-EU products.

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French President Emmanuel Macron was on Saturday welcomed at the annual Agricultural Fair by angry farmers calling for more government support and simplified regulations.

During talks on-site with farmers' representatives, Macron stressed that resolving this crisis would not happen quickly and highlighted the fair as a crucial moment for farmers, who have invested a lot of effort to showcase their animals and products. 

The annual fair opens a day after frustrated farmers returned to Paris with their tractors to demand increased government support and simplified regulations.

The latest protest comes three weeks after farmers lifted roadblocks around Paris and throughout the country following a government pledge to spend €400 million to address concerns regarding low incomes, excessive regulation, and perceived unfair competition from abroad.

"Save our agriculture," declared the Rural Coordination, echoing their sentiment on social media. Among the demonstrators, one tractor bore a poster reading: "Death is in the field."

The convoy briefly disrupted traffic on the A4 highway to the east of Paris and the city's ring-road earlier in the day.

The grievances expressed by French farmers are part of a broader movement across Europe protesting against EU agricultural policies, bureaucratic hurdles, and overall business conditions.

Farmers argue that EU environmental regulations, including initiatives like the Green Deal, which advocate for restrictions on chemical usage and greenhouse gas emissions, hamper their operations and render their products less competitive compared to imports from outside the EU.

Similar protests are unfolding across France as farmers ramp up pressure on the government to fulfill its commitments. Government officials have engaged in ongoing discussions with farmers' unions in recent weeks to draft a new bill aimed at safeguarding France's "agricultural sovereignty," which will undergo parliamentary debate this spring.

The government's proposed measures include significant financial assistance, tax incentives, and a pledge not to prohibit pesticides in France that remain permissible elsewhere in Europe. French farmers argue that such bans place them at an unfair disadvantage.

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