French farmers have mounted a major protest around Paris, using tractors and hay bales to blockade highways leading into the capital. This movement, which emerged in response to the challenges facing the agricultural sector partly due to the war in Ukraine, has caused significant disruptions and shows no signs of ending soon.
Hundreds of farmers are blocking eight motorways and converging on Paris’s Rungis food market, the largest in Europe, with their tractors. The protest coincides with an anticipated statement from Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who is expected to announce new aid measures for the farming sector.
Arnaud Rousseau, president of the FNSEA, France’s main agricultural union, emphasized the need for urgent government action and “symbolic emergency measures.” Following discussions with Attal, Rousseau conveyed a sense of readiness from the Prime Minister to address the issues comprehensively.
Despite efforts by the police to prevent the blockade, especially around the Rungis market, the farmers have successfully bypassed these attempts. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who has deployed 15,000 officers in response, has cautioned against intervention unless there is a threat to property or people.
The protests are causing significant traffic disruptions around Paris, which is set to host the Summer Olympics in six months. Key highways, including the A1 north of the city’s main international airport and the A4 near Disneyland Paris, are among the affected routes.
Farmers argue that the measures proposed by Prime Minister Attal last week are insufficient to address their concerns about making food production more profitable, easier, and fairer. The blockades are part of a broader strategy to pressure the government into taking more decisive action to alleviate the crisis in the agricultural sector.
The protest in France has resonated with farmers in neighboring Belgium, who have also established barricades on major roads, including those leading to Brussels. The French-speaking part of Belgium is witnessing the majority of these demonstrations.
These protests highlight the deepening crisis in the agricultural sector and the urgent need for effective government interventions to support farmers and ensure the sustainability of food production in the face of global challenges.