French farmers block major roads around Paris

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Tractors queue as French farmers try to reach ParisImage source, Reuters/Stephanie Lecocq

French farmers have begun moving hundreds of tractors in an effort to blockade key routes into the French capital, termed the “siege of Paris.”

Farmers argue they are being hit by falling incomes, environmental regulations, rising red tape, and competition from imports.

French authorities say 15,000 police have been mobilised to stop tractors entering the capital and other cities.

Similar protests are taking place across the country.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers mvoed to block major highways to Paris on Monday, as similar protests took place in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands.

“We can’t do cheap farming… we need to be able to make a living from our trade,” one protester in Paris told the BBC.

While farming unions have called the protest “a siege of Paris,” secondary roads to the city have remained open.

Farmers say their aim is to stop food deliveries reaching supermarkets – something officials have warned them not to do.

But police have also been given orders not to intervene, and there have so far been no signs of disorder.

The head of France’s biggest farmers’ union, the National Federation of Agricultural Holders’ Unions (FNSEA), Arnaud Rousseau, said their goal was to force the government to find a quick resolution to their stand-off.

He also said the protest movement would continue everywhere in France “with the very concrete objective of having emergency measures announced” – especially surrounding food prices and reciprocity of rules.

In response to the blockades, French government spokeswoman Prisca Thevenot said new measures would be announced on Tuesday, in addition to those announced last week.

Last week’s included dropping a planned hike in taxes on fuel and additional support for farmers whose animals fall ill.

The Elysée Palace also announced French President Emmanuel Macron will meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday in Brussels, to discuss the agriculture industry and EU-wide support for farmers.

Eric Hardy, 62, grain farmer from Eure-et-Loir, looks on as French farmers block a highway

Image source, Reuters/Sarah Meyssonnier

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