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French Farmers’ Unions Halt Protests Following Government Concessions


In a significant turn of events, two major farmers’ unions in France have decided to suspend their protests and lift road blockades across the nation. This decision comes shortly after the French prime minister, Gabriel Attal, unveiled a new set of measures, which the unions perceive as “tangible progress” in addressing their concerns.

For days, farmers across the country have been protesting against issues such as low wages, excessive regulations, and unfair competition from abroad. The president of the Young Farmers union, Arnaud Gaillot, and the head of France’s largest farmers union FNSEA, Arnaud Rousseau, jointly announced the decision to suspend the blockades, citing “tangible progress” in key areas.

Prime Minister Attal, in a speech delivered earlier on Thursday, presented a comprehensive set of measures, building upon previous promises, to address the grievances raised by the farmers. The announcement coincided with ongoing protests outside the European Union’s headquarters, where convoys of angry farmers, driving heavy-duty tractors, sought relief from rising prices and bureaucratic challenges.

Key measures announced by Prime Minister Attal include:

  1. No New Pesticide Ban Without Solutions:
    • Assured that there will be no new pesticide ban “without a solution,” emphasizing that no pesticides authorized elsewhere in the EU would be banned in France.
  2. Immediate Ban on Certain Imports:
    • Immediate prohibition of imports of fruits and vegetables from outside the EU treated with Thiaclopride, an insecticide currently banned in the bloc.
  3. Proposal for a European Control Force:
    • Proposal for the creation of a “European control force” to combat fraud, particularly related to health regulations, and to prevent the import of food products not meeting European and French health standards.
  4. Opposition to Mercosur Trade Deal:
    • Firm opposition to the EU signing a free-trade deal with the Mercosur trade group, stating that France will not accept such a treaty.
  5. Financial Support and Tax Reductions:
    • Allocation of €150 million in aid to livestock farmers.
    • Reduction of taxes on farms being transferred from older generations to younger ones.
  6. Agricultural Loans Package:
    • Announcement of a €2 billion package to facilitate loans for individuals establishing themselves as farmers.
  7. Strict Controls and Sanctions:
    • Doubling the number of controls to sanction food industrial groups and supermarkets not complying with a 2018 law ensuring fair prices for farmers. Violating companies may face fines of up to 2% of their sales revenues.

The government’s objectives with these measures are to restore the value of food, enhance farmers’ income, protect them from unfair competition, and simplify their daily operations. The decision to suspend protests indicates a willingness on both sides to find common ground and address the pressing issues faced by the agricultural community in France.


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