‘Under siege’: French Farmers Encircle Paris with Tractors in Demonstration

Protesting farmers on tractors have initiated a plan to encircle Paris with barricades, aiming to stage a mass protest that will have a significant impact on the city.

The frustrated French farmers are also intending to leisurely drive tractors, trailers, and harvesters along the main roads leading to the capital, resulting in traffic congestion along their route.

Protests have been taking place across France as farmers demand greater government support to safeguard the agricultural sector against external competition, increasing expenses, and inadequate wages.

In Argenteuil, north of Paris, a farmer pitches his tent on his tractor’s trailer alongside a highway

In Jossigny, near the Disneyland theme park outside Paris, a group of protesters took a stand by blocking all six lanes of the A4 highway. They strategically parked their tractors in a formation that resembled an ear of wheat when viewed from above.

Protesters in the southern region strategically placed hay bales to obstruct the A6 highway, as seen in images from broadcaster BFM-TV.

Some of the protesters are fully equipped with supplies like food, water, and tents, indicating their readiness to stay at the barricades for an extended period of time.

Approximately 15,000 police officers will be deployed, with a focus on the Paris region, according to interior minister Gerald Darmanin. This measure aims to prevent widespread disruption caused by blockades.

According to Mr. Darmanin, his aim is to avoid any disruptions at Rungis International Market, a crucial supplier of fresh food to the capital and its surrounding region, as well as at Paris’ airports.

The farmers of the Rural Coordination union in the Lot-et-Garonne region, where the protests originated, expressed their intention to drive their tractors towards the market on Monday. Meanwhile, France’s two largest farmers unions announced their plans to obstruct all major roads leading to the capital and effectively isolate the city.

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According to farmers protesting, the war in Ukraine has resulted in increased prices for fertiliser, energy, and other resources essential for crop growth and livestock feeding.

Some have made the case that the industry is burdened by excessive regulations and has suffered from the influx of cheaper food imports from abroad.

Meanwhile on Sunday, two climate activists made a bold statement at the Louvre museum by throwing soup at the glass protecting the Mona Lisa. They passionately voiced their support for a more sustainable food system and expressed their concerns about France’s farming practices.

“What is the most significant matter?” They raised their voices. “Art, or the right to a healthy and sustainable food?”

Our agricultural system is in a dire state. They emphasized the urgent situation faced by our farmers.

At the Louvre Museum, activists threw soup at the glass encasing the Mona Lisa

Activism groups have raised concerns about the French government’s alleged failure to uphold its climate commitments. Meanwhile, farmers are expressing their discontent with certain sustainability measures, including the taxation of diesel fuel used in agricultural machinery.

There has been a surge in protests over the past week, as farmers have taken to the streets, using agricultural waste and straw bale barricades to make their voices heard. These demonstrations have caused significant disruptions, with traffic jams caused by slow-moving tractors on main roads.

The French government has taken action to address the concerns of farmers by implementing a range of measures aimed at reducing bureaucracy in the industry. As part of these efforts, they have decided to cancel the proposed diesel fuel taxes for farm vehicles.

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Guarding the entrance to the Rungis International Market is a gendarme riding atop a military truck

Prime Minister Gabril Attal, who assumed office on January 9, delivered his speech with a formal attire and referred to his notes placed on a hay bale. He emphasised the government’s prioritisation of agriculture.

According to Mr. Attal, his government is currently exploring potential measures to address what he perceives as “unfair competition” from other countries with different production rules that are importing food into France.

He assured that there would be additional announcements in the near future to address the concerns of farmers.

Reports have surfaced of farmers expressing their grievances through tractor protests in various European countries in recent weeks and months. Among these, Dutch farmers have initiated a particularly lengthy and fervent series of protests, which continue to this day.

Berlin saw a massive influx of tractors recently, as farmers from across Italy also took to the streets to voice their concerns about the EU’s agricultural policy.

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