French farmers stage new protests around banks in south-west France

Tractors are dumping manure outside sites. Union claims the government is too slow to advance concessions

The CR47 union from Lot-et-Garonne took part in the roadblocks on the A15 motorway near Paris in January
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Farmers are protesting with tractors outside banks and dumping manure in south-west France as negotiations continue with the government over its concessions.

Many banks have closed as a result.

The Coordination rurale union in Lot-et-Garonne (Occitanie) started a new wave of protests on February 9, this time targeting banks throughout the department, demanding a freeze on bank fees and annuities. So far, the protests have affected banks in Agen and Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

The CR47 union started dumping mature and picketing banks on February 14 in a series of protests that are particularly visible since the other large unions ended their action after winning government concessions on February 1.

Why are the farmers targeting banks?

“We are targeting banks because they have not listened to our concerns,” CR47 vice-president José Pérez told BFMTV.

“We asked [prime minister] Gabriel Attal for direct help with funding and nothing came of it. So today we will target all of the banks in the department.

“We just want to suspend our annuities for one year, so people with mortgages until 2030 would pay them by 2031.”

The protest coincides with a planned meeting between the national president of the Coordination rurale, Véronique le Floc'h, with President Macron on February 14.

Will other unions join this movement?

The FNSEA and Jeunes Agriculteurs unions, which were at the forefront of the wave of national protests in January, are unlikely to follow suit.

In part this is due to the political differences between the unions. The Coordination rurale was originally a splinter group that split from the FNSEA in 1991.

The Coordination rurale in Lot-et-Garonne in particular is known for its far-right inclinations, with Corinne Griffond, the Renaissance party leader in the department telling La Depeche that “the CR47 is in the hands of the Rassemblement Nationale.”

Nonetheless, the farmers’ unions are growing impatient at the slow delivery of government concessions.

The president of the FNSEA, Arnaud Rousseau, suggested that if the reforms are not delivered before the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris on February 24, the protests might return.

Speaking to RMC on February 14, the Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, sought to reassure farmers.

“Each measure to simplify matters for farmers requires a decree, which takes time,” he said.

“It’s understandable that this anger is there and that we need to act quickly. There is certainly a moment of impatience but nobody can say we have not made considerable efforts, with urgent measures for winemakers and livestock.”

The FNSEA, Jeunes Agriculteurs and Coordination rurale are scheduled to meet with president Macron on February 14.

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