FRENCH FARMERS ARE ANGRY and on Thursday their anger spilled over from the French countryside to the streets of Paris.
Hundreds of farmers and more than 1,300 tractors converged on the city in the latest protest against collapsing incomes.
From all parts of the country, farmers and their tractors trundled along the major roads into the capital on Thursday morning. Many Parisian commuters took police advice and travelled to work by public transport to avoid the disruption.
While the farmers were converging on Place de la Nation in the east of the city, their spokesman Xavier Beulin, Président de la Fédération nationale des syndicats d’exploitants agricoles and his delegation were meeting the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is not unsympathetic to their cause.
Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, Xavier Beulin addressed the farmers in Place de la Nation on Thursday afternoon. You can listen to their response in the sound piece below.
French farmers are facing stiff competition. Production costs in neighbouring countries are much lower, they have been hit by tough competition between supermarkets as well as a Russian embargo on EU food imports, and dairy farmers in particular have seen incomes collapse because of over-production on the world market.
Just six weeks ago, the government came up with a package of debt relief worth €600 million. But the farmers say they need much more, arguing that French agriculture is on the verge of collapse. They are seeking tax breaks from the government as well as action from the EU in Brussels.
Sounds of French farmers in Place de la Nation on Thursday:
French farmers have been particularly vocal throughout this summer, blocking roads on the German border and targeting major tourist destinations such as the Mont Saint-Michel peninsula.
Some of the farmers who were in Place de la Nation on Thursday will be joining a pan-European protest on Monday in Brussels during a meeting of EU agriculture ministers.