(Paris) The State will dedicate 150 million euros “starting this year and in the long term” to relieve the tax and social burden of breeders “who need specific support”, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced on Thursday.
“Our breeders need specific support. This is why (…) we will devote 150 million euros to them in fiscal and social support starting this year and on a long-term basis. Working with the sector will make it possible to specify the modalities,” he declared during a press conference.
The Prime Minister is in Matignon in the presence of ministers Bruno Le Maire (Economy), Marc Fesneau (Agriculture) and Christophe Béchu (Ecological Transition).
The FNSEA, the majority agricultural union, has planned a press conference at 2 p.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke in the morning with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen about the “future of European agriculture”, according to the Élysée, before an extraordinary European summit devoted to the budget of the EU and the aid to be given to Ukraine.
The aid released on Wednesday by the French government, like the concessions from the European Commission – on fallow land and Ukrainian imports – did not seem to find favor in the eyes of the profession, also mobilized in Italy, Spain, Germany and since Thursday in Portugal .
“A thousand tractors or agricultural machinery” are blocking several streets in the Belgian capital, seat of the European institutions, a police spokesperson told AFP, specifying that the demonstrators mainly came from Belgium. The organizers explained that they wanted to denounce “the madness that threatens agriculture”.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban went to Brussels to meet them on Wednesday evening, saying it was “a mistake for Europe not to take the voice of the people seriously”.
Quiet in Rungis
In France, the president of the 2e representative agricultural union Rural Coordination (CR), Véronique Le Floc’h, suggested Thursday on RMC to farmers “who wish to go to Paris” to “come to the National Assembly” so that the deputies “can come to meet them”.
“I don’t even need to call” the farmers to demonstrate, “they are organizing everywhere to fill cars, there are departures everywhere,” she assured.
The aim is in particular, according to her, to show their support for the 91 people arrested on Wednesday for entering the Rungis wholesale market (Val-de-Marne) on foot. All police custody was lifted Thursday morning, indicated the Créteil public prosecutor’s office.
Karine Duc, co-president of the CR of Lot-et-Garonne and among those arrested, compared this operation to “almost a raid”. “If this is the answer we give to the peasants of France,” she lamented upon leaving police custody.
Calm reigned Thursday around the Rungis market. The convoy of tractors that left Agen on Monday morning to reach this symbolic place of food, whose progress was blocked several times by the police, temporarily retreated towards Loir-et-Cher on Thursday morning, a CR representative told AFP.
Behind the scenes, the government is consulting everywhere to find a way out of the crisis.
On the Jossigny dam on the A4 motorway in Seine-et-Marne, farmers are “still mobilized, awaiting announcements that could come today” from Brussels, Samuel Vandaele, secretary, told AFP. general of the FDSEA 77, explaining that they were organizing “in rotation” to hold out.
In the country, more than 150 gatherings – filter dams, blockages or demonstrations – were recorded on Wednesday, notably around Orange, Nîmes, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Grenoble and Nantes. In Lyon, the encirclement of the metropolis is almost complete, apart from one last road junction.
Faced with the anger expressed across the continent, the European Commission has proposed granting for 2024 a “partial” exemption from the fallow obligations imposed by the CAP and is considering a mechanism limiting imports from Ukraine (poultry, eggs and sugar).
If Paris welcomed the fact that Brussels had “responded to France’s requests”, the derogation comes “late” and the measures on imports remain “insufficient”, regretted the president of Copa-Cogeca, the organization of the majority European agricultural unions , Christiane Lambert.
European policy too complex, incomes too low, inflation, foreign competition, accumulation of standards, soaring fuel prices: the same demands are found in most European countries.
Another subject of friction remains unresolved in Brussels: the Commission is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay) which worries the agricultural sector and which Paris does not want as it stands current.
Environmentalists and many parties are also opposed to it. But in France, the boss of Medef Patrick Martin, on the other hand, was favorable to this agreement, arguing that French exports created many jobs.