French farmers have taken to protesting the new climate policies that they claim they bear the brunt of. Recently, farmers have been blocking streets and dumping manure and waste in front of public offices. The protests have been increasing in frequency and force, causing concern for the safety of protestors and authorities alike.
This has been ongoing for a year, as earlier protests involved turning road signs upside down and writing the slogan “We’ve been walking on our heads,” referring to their world being turned upside down by the policies.
There are a mesh of complicated policies, prices, and regulations that have made the French farmers angry. Notably, the price of diesel, the banning of pesticides, and the new EU-wide deal that transports beef from Argentina have weighed heavily on the farmers ability to pay for the necessities needed to cover operating costs alone. On top of this, common pesticides and herbicides were also banned, making it much harder to find environmentally safe and cheaper methods of crop care.
Farmers concerns are tied to the strict regulations placed on them; their prices will not be able to compete with the imported beef and vegetables from countries that have relaxed regulations. They are also concerned that the policies are poorly made, with many contradictions, extensive paperwork, and increasingly straining requirements.
It is not only in France. Across the EU, farming protests are becoming more common as countries fight over environmental solutions and farm-friendly policies. Germany and the Netherlands have also seen major protests stemming from confusing policies. Similar to the French, Dutch farmers dumped manure, blocked roads, and sprayed liquid fertilizer on government buildings.
Farmers across Europe feel that government buyouts, increased urban investments, and increasingly heavy regulations are going to result in a lack of food for Europe in the years to come. Some have expressed willingness to find solutions to the problem but have felt like they are being forced to leave the table.
The French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and the Agricultural Minister had a meeting and stated, “their will be no lifting of actions as long as there are no concrete decisions.” The French government has promised the farmers that they have heard their call of concern and will likely come out with a statement in the coming days.
For the rest of Europe, it is a little trickier. Countries are trying to rapidly reduce nitrogen emissions as well as carbon emissions from fuel. Germany has cut fuel subsidies for farms as the price of fuel has gone up. Elections for the European Parliament are occurring in June, and farmers are trying to warn residents that farming should be an election issue.