French farmers say there will be more protests in next two weeks

Last motorway roadblock ends but union says ‘our anger is still smouldering’

The protests have resulted in a series of announcements, but farmers say the government legislation has not followed suit
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The farmer protests are not over, despite government concessions, and more actions should be expected within the next two weeks, says the main farmers’ union.

French farmers have been protesting since January due to the accumulation of environmental regulations, the payment of European grants, supermarket prices and competition from cheaper foreign imports, which are not subject to French food production standards (on pesticide use for instance).

Prime minister Gabriel Attal’s government has offered them many concessions, including:

  • Payment of European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) aid by March 15
  • Ring fencing of €150 million for livestock farmers “from this year onwards”
  • A “strengthening” of the EGalim pricing law to protect farmers' incomes
  • A pause in the Ecophyto plan to reduce the use of pesticides
  • The rejection of the trade agreement between the European Union and the MERCOSUR countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay)
  • Extra checks on the French origin of products
  • A ‘floor price’ for beef and milk
  • A proposed EU-wide EGalim law

However both of the main farmers’ unions have expressed dissatisfaction with the speed at which the government has backed their promises with legislation.

Read more: Will farmer roadblocks return? French union angered by lack of action

Last motorway roadblock ends

On Sunday, March 3, Vinci autoroutes confirmed that the A62, the last motorway to be blocked by farmers, was open again.

However, the head of the FNSEA farmers’ union has warned that the protests are by no means over.

“Our anger is still smouldering,” its president Arnaud Rousseau told BFMTV. “It is clear that we are not done with this yet.”

“There are lots of things that have been put on the table, lots of announcements have been made. Now our battle is to make them happen, so that they become a reality on our farms,” he said.

Mr Rousseau did not confirm whether more motorway roadblocks would return.

“As has been the case for over a month now, farmers in each department can take their own measures as they see fit,” he said.

Several of the concessions announced by the government have left farmers frustrated. Mr Attal’s proposed annual administrative checks on supermarket prices, for instance, have not been explained.

“At present I have no idea how such a process would work,” said Mr Rousseau.

Similarly, the latest concessions promised to farmers, this time by President Macron on February 24, were a ‘floor price’ for certain agricultural products and a proposed European version of the EGalim law.

Critics argue that the floor price largely exists already, while an EU-wide EGalim law is outside of Mr Macron’s power to implement.

Read more:

SEE: Tensions flare as Macron tries to defuse French farmer protests