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

The president offered two new concessions during his embattled visit to the Paris Agricultural Show

President Macron’s visit to the Paris Agricultural Show caused a minor riot this year (pictured in 2017)
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President Macron has announced a new ‘floor price’ for certain agricultural products along with plans for a European farming law in a bid to defuse the tense situation with farmers amid chaotic scenes at the Paris Agricultural Show.

Farmers have been protesting for several months due to the multiplication of European regulations, delays in the payment of government subsidies and the ban on certain common pesticides.

These tensions surfaced again on Saturday (February 24) as Mr Macron’s visit to the Paris Agricultural show resulted in a minor riot.

The president had been scheduled to negotiate with farmers prior to inaugurating the show, which is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

However, when Mr Macron entered the building at the Parc des expositions in Versailles (Yvelines), protesters forced the doors to follow him inside, causing scenes of chaos as gendarmes and CRS riot police attempted to regain control.

The show opened an hour and a half late due to the disruption.

Prime minister Gabriel Attal’s government has offered them several concessions, 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

While the nationwide motorway roadblocks have ended, local blockades and protests at supermarkets and supermarket supply centres continue, with many farmers claiming that they need more protection from cheaper foreign imports which are not subject to France’s EGalim laws.

Read more: French farmer protests restart: what is happening where?

Read more: French farmers block supermarket deliveries in south-west

A ‘floor price’ and a plan for a European EGalim law

Speaking away from the whistles, jeers and taunts of farmers, Mr Macron, who spent 13 hours at the show, announced two new measures to appease the unions.

The first is a ‘floor price’ that accounts for the production cost of certain agricultural products. Distributors will not be able to purchase goods at below this price.

This ‘floor price’ already exists for many products, however, farmers claim that it does not go far enough for milk and beef in particular.

The newly proposed ‘floor price’ will presumably reinforce the existing system.

Such a measure was previously put forward by left-wing party La France Insoumise in January 2024 but rejected by Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau.

The second measure announced by Mr Macron is a proposed Europe-wide version of France’s EGalim law.

Read more: What is France's EGalim law and why does it matter to farmers?

This is by no means a new idea, indeed the FNSEA farmers union has argued for several months that such a measure is the only way to prevent supermarkets from undercutting French produce with cheaper foreign imports.

However, according to Jean-Christophe Bureau, Economics professor at AgroParisTech, the legislative path to a Europe-wide EGalim law would be a long one.

“Enforcing uniform rules for the purchasing of goods and for competition in the single market would be… complicated,” he told Public Senat.

“In Germany, companies tend to create long-term contractual relationships with suppliers that are built on trust,” he said. “On the other hand, they say that if French companies see a good deal they just go for it”.

Regardless of the difficult implementation of such a law, Mr Macron attempted a note of defiance at the end of his embattled day at the Paris Agricultural Show.

“We are making progress,” he said.” And that it what French farmers deserve".

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