Farmer protests shrink in France

Paris, (EFE).- The protest by French farmers and ranchers ended on Saturday, a day after government announcements to please the sector. However, around 40 roadblocks and highways remain, some close to the Spanish border.

According to a census conducted by the French authorities, 38 sieges were recorded on Saturday, with the participation of 700 farmers, who set up barriers and placed their trucks and tractors as barriers, compared to 112 on Friday, when 17,500 professionals from the sector participated. Proven.

The A64 motorway, where the protest movement began, reminiscent at some points of the “yellow vest” movement of 2018, began to empty after more than a week of mobilization.

According to live data from traffic information agency Bison Foti, the A63 motorway that starts at the Spanish border with the Basque Country is no longer closed to traffic as it was on Friday, although it has had problems with traffic jams.

However, National Highway 22, which connects to Andorra, and the A9 Highway, which connects southeastern France with the Spanish region of Catalonia, remained closed to traffic. In the case of the A9 at three points: near Perpignan, Montpellier and Nîmes.

Many demonstrators complain about the entry of agricultural products from Spain, considering that it represents unfair competition due to its low prices and that its environmental standards are worse than those in France.

Although French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal succeeded in calming nerves on Friday with a series of announcements, including a tax break for agricultural diesel, the main agricultural organizations asked for continued mobilization, saying that the measures were insufficient.

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Young Farmers (JJAA), one of the sector's most representative representatives along with the powerful National Federation of Agricultural Operators' Unions (FNSEA), caused confusion on Saturday when they announced, through one of their representatives, that they would begin blocking access to Paris from Sunday.

The statement was later reserved by the organization itself, which confirmed that a measure was on the table.

This Saturday, some actions were also taken by farmers against supermarkets, which they accused of buying at very low prices to achieve high profit margins, and tributes were paid to the 35-year-old farmer and her 14-year-old daughter who were run over and killed during a demonstration this week.

Avoid a rebellion like the Yellow Vests

Less than six months before the European elections, in which the far-right led by Marine Le Pen is the favorite, the French government led by pro-European Emmanuel Macron wants to prevent at all costs the farmers' revolution from reaching the reach of the “yellow vests”. And the rebellion of the lower middle classes in semi-rural areas in 2018, which put Macron in trouble.

For this reason, Prime Minister Atal was quick to accept many of the sector's demands while ordering security forces to intervene as little as possible, despite protesters setting fire to at least three public buildings in recent days.

In addition to the agricultural diesel exemption – which sparked the protest movement – Attal pledged to negotiate in Brussels a new exception to the obligation to leave 4% of land fallow and accelerate Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments. France is the main beneficiary, amounting to 9,000 million euros annually, as the main producer in the bloc.

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Likewise, the head of the executive confirmed that France would not ratify the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement – ​​which he described as the “law of the jungle” – and announced measures to relax environmental rules that many farmers complain about. The European Union is strengthening its Green Deal.

Specifically, the government noted that some Brussels regulations harm agricultural and food activities in France, sectors that account for 3.4% of the country's GDP and employ 5% of workers.

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