French farmers’ protests | Action at the Arc de Triomphe and whistles at the Agricultural Show

(Paris) Two days before the closing of an Agricultural Show without clashes except for the first day, a surprise action by Rural Coordination Friday morning at the Arc de Triomphe and a throwing of eggs at ministers who came to the show show that farmers still expect a lot from the government in the coming weeks.

After the hectic visit of the Head of State on Saturday, followed by announcements on floor prices and cash flow aid, the agricultural unions have a meeting with Emmanuel Macron in mid-March, before the presentation of a law on agricultural orientation in spring.

Road blockages have been lifted in the country since the beginning of February, and farmers largely took a break during “their” show in Paris, but Friday’s actions illustrate the capacity for initiative of the grassroots of the agricultural movement.

In the afternoon, the Ministers of Ecological Transition and Agriculture, Christophe Béchu and Marc Fesneau, were targeted with whistles and egg throwing at the Salon de l’Agriculture. “We have noticed that for three weeks, nothing has progressed,” declared one of the demonstrators.

The action, carried out by farmers claiming to be part of the departmental federation of the FNSEA of Seine-et-Marne, aroused the anger of Mr. Fesneau. “If those who did this think it’s smart to throw eggs to solve problems, I think they are making a mistake,” he denounced on RTL. “It will not stop me and it will not deviate me from the path that is mine,” added the minister.

The secretary general of the FNSEA Hervé Lapie regretted to the AFP “having arrived at such actions”, calling for respect for people.

The irruption at dawn on Thursday morning of tractors and bales of straw at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, a highly symbolic place and scene of violence during the “yellow vest” crisis in 2018, foreshadowed an eventful day. According to the police headquarters, 66 people were arrested.

“We will not give up,” said the president of Rural Coordination (CR) Véronique Le Floc’h, at the origin of this action.


Other actions took place elsewhere near Paris.

Once the square was evacuated, shortly after 9:30 a.m., traffic resumed and a convoy of tractors took the road to the Palace of Versailles, where farmers installed around twenty tractors near the equestrian statue of Louis XIV, escorted by the police.

The management of the FNSEA does not plan to call for a new national mobilization after the Show, assured AFP Hervé Lapie, who favors work with the government.

“If we have to start again with union action because it’s blocking us, we will do it. But I think that our objective is not to do union action for the sake of doing union action, to be visible,” he explained.

“What we want to see is the concrete translation. As I speak to you, we are not there yet,” underlined the president of the FNSEA Arnaud Rousseau, alongside Christophe Béchu, after a meeting at the show. The minister took care to note that the blockade carried out by the CR in the morning was “the work of a minority union”.

No call to demonstrate

At the end of the show, “Sunday evening, everything will not be settled and everyone knows that,” declared Marc Fesneau, on France Bleu Occitanie.

More than 400 million euros in emergency measures were announced by the government, which promised a shock of simplification, the strengthening of Egalim laws to protect farmers’ income and which placed agriculture at the rank of a “major general interest”. The executive promised to ease constraints, particularly environmental ones, at the cost of concessions criticized by NGOs and scientists on pesticides.

At the forefront of the mobilization, alongside the FNSEA, the Young Farmers are also not considering returning to the streets at this stage. “We have never broken the dialogue, we must continue to work,” their president Arnaud Gaillot told AFP.

While the CR, the second agricultural union, born in 1991 from a split with the FNSEA, multiplies the accusations of disastrous “co-management” against it, Arnaud Gaillot deplores “populism without solution”.

“Calling into question the dialogue of the majority unions with the government is a denial of democracy,” he says, accusing the CR of “one-upmanship”.

For its part, the Confédération paysanne, the third union classified on the left, does not plan “any mobilization in the days to come”, but is not calling for demobilization either, Stéphane Galais, one of its members, told AFP. national secretaries.


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