Farmer Uprising Spreads Across Europe

Farmer Uprising Spreads Across Europe

A veritable peasants’ revolt appears to be budding across the continent as overregulation, inflation and the green agenda are taking their toll on the ability of farmers to earn a living in — and consequently feed the people of — modern Europe. The latest protests to crop up - in France - came over the low payout from supermarket chains to food producers, and after a week of similar uprisings in Germany.

Sings hung on the French tractors read: “No farmers, no food,” and: “France, do you still want your farmers?” the local La Provence newspaper reported. Footage posted by video journalist Clement Lanot on X showed farmers dumping mature, agricultural waste and even wine on the streets of the city, while some set bales of hay ablaze to express their anger.

Brief clashes also broke out as farmers attempted to break into a chain supermarket, which they claim has been price gouging their produce and keeping the increased revenues to themselves.

An estimated 450 tractors and other vehicles in three convoys also rode into the city of Toulouse on Tuesday, with manure and straw being strewn across the city as well, Le Figaro reported.

The president of the Young Farmers of Vaucluse Audrey Piazza told broadcaster France 3 that “the consumer, if he pays 3 euros per kilo of apples, the producer will receive 30 or 40 cents.”

“I understand that there are intermediaries but at some point, perhaps we should stop leaving us crumbs and allow us to live on our own production. This is where the Egalim law should come into play,” he added.

The Egalim law, which was passed by the French National Assembly last year, attempted to increase the power of farmers in annual negotiations between producers and large retailers on the price of commodities. However, the unions protesting in Avignon on Tuesday claimed that so far the legislation has utterly failed in meaningfully increasing the amount of money received by farmers.

“The Egalim law should protect us but that is not what is happening at all, said Sophie Vache, the president of the National Federation of Agricultural Operators’ Unions of Vaucluse. “We are fed up. The stacking of regulations and everything added means that today we can’t take it anymore and we have to go out into the street.”

Florian Arnoux, a farmer from Caderousse said that amid years of inflation and rising costs, there has been little consideration given to the economic realities faced by farmers, saying: “It’s anger, it’s the fatigue of so many years of work for nothing… We always exhaust ourselves so much for nothing.”

French farmers have been protesting against the interference of the state in their ability to farm for many years, but these latest protests in Avignon come after a week of large-scale farmer civil disobedience in Germany, where farmers shut down major highways and cities after the left-wing government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in December that it would be eliminating seven-decade-old tax exemptions on agricultural fuel to fill a gap in the federal budget, while at the same time increasing funding for the war in Ukraine.

Farmers throughout Europe have also increasingly become the vanguard in opposing the green agenda imposed by the EU, notably in the Netherlands where farmers have long staged mass tractor protests in response to attempts by the government to shut down thousands of farms to comply with environmental regulations from Brussels.

The Dutch protests led to the formation of the populist Farmer–Citizen Movement party, which became the largest provincial power and the top party in the Netherlands senate last year and is likely to become a coalition partner of the presumptive government of Geert Wilders.