Agricultural workers say green policies and taxes are eating into their profits and are demanding more government subsidies.
Farmers’ protests have sprung up in Romania, Germany and France, ahead of the EU elections in June.
Whilst their demands vary in general they claim that they are taking the hardest hit from environmental reforms and that they need more government subsidies to offset them.
In Romania, farmers and truckers have been clogging up main roads with their tractor and trucks for a week and a half now.
They’re demanding lower taxes and fairer subsidies, but so far talks with the government have failed, and they’re continuing to protest. They’re also angry over the growing cost of insurance for heavy machinery.
In Berlin on Saturday, farmers were joined shoulder-to-shoulder with eco-activists.
Farmers say that they are fully supportive of environmentally friendly, genetically unmodified farming, but for that, they do need subsidies or, at least, fair prices set for their products.
But they say, the government has hesitated to implement such measures despite handing their demands to the agriculture minister Cem Özdemir.
The farmers have been on the streets since December, when the federal government agreed on a budget cancelling several decades-old farming subsidies and benefits. These could have saved farmers over 480 million euros. Later, Berlin decided to soften the plans, by making the benefit cuts gradual.
In southern France, mass protests over the past few days have forced the government to address farmers’ issues. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal will meet on Monday with the president of the National Federation of Agricultural Operators’ Unions or FNSEA.
Earlier, farmers vowed to block some motorways until Attal heard their demands. The FNSEA has said it will decide next week whether they will call for nation-wide action.
The farmers say that authorities’ eco-transition policies make national producers uncompetitive. Not only does it make farms unprofitable, it forces France to buy food products from countries where environmental standards are weaker they claim.