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French farmers storm Paris agriculture fair

February 24, 2024

A group of farmers forced their way through an entrance gate, calling for President Emmanuel Macron to quit. European farmers have been protesting for months, complaining of low profits, red tape and unfair competition.

Farmers clash with police officers inside the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre during the International Agriculture Fair in Paris, France, on February 24, 2024
Scuffles took place between police and protesters as French President Emmanuel Macron toured the fairImage: Stephanie Lecocq/REUTERS

Dozens of French farmers on Saturday forced open an entrance gate to an agricultural show in Paris as part of their protests against European Union green policies and other measures that they say are hitting their bottom line.

Clashes broke out with riot police who were trying to restrain the farmers.

Many of them shouted and booed, calling for the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Reuters news agency reported that at least one person was arrested at the fair, which runs for nine days and attracts around 600,000 visitors.

Macron was attending the Salon International de l'Agriculture (International Agricultural Show) to hold a debate with farmers, food processors and retailers.

But the event was called off Friday after farmers' unions said they would not attend.

Green policies hinder food production, say farmers

Farmers have held angry protests across Europe for several weeks, arguing that red tape, new regulations to tackle climate change and unfair competition from Ukraine are making farming unprofitable.

The demonstrations have already forced some EU states and the European Union to roll back some planned reforms.

Farmers in France had scaled back their protests, which included blocking highways and dumping manure in front of public buildings after Prime Minister Gabriel Attal promised new measures worth 400 million ($433 million).

But protests resumed this week ahead of the agricultural show, to pressure the government to deliver on those promises and provide more help.

On Friday, French farmers demonstrated in front of the agricultural show, where some camped overnight.

Other protesters took part in a procession of tractors that parked for several hours in central Paris.

Some political analysts believe the demonstrations could impact the outcome of June's European Parliament elections.

French farmers keep up the pressure

Polish officials spurn talks with Ukraine

In Eastern Europe, Poland snubbed a delegation led by Ukraine's prime minister on Friday seeking to resolve tensions caused by weeks-long Polish farmer protests at their border.

Warsaw said it had never agreed to a border meeting over the demonstrations.

Polish farmers haveblocked crossing points at the Ukrainian border to denounce what they say is unfair competition from their war-torn neighbor's cheaper produce.

Kyiv says Ukraine's economy has been hurt by the blockade, insisting that the war-torn country's exports and weapons deliveries have been held up.

Polish farmers have vowed to block a key road linking Poland and Germany from Sunday.

EU ministers are to meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss new proposals aimed at reducing the number of checks at the EU border on produce.

mm/wmr (AFP, Reuters)