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French farmers to ‘starve Parisians’ with tractor blockade
29 January 2024, 21:18 | Updated: 29 January 2024, 21:21
French farmers have taken Paris under ‘siege’ after 800 tractors surrounded the capital in a mass protest against strict environmental regulations, red tape and low pay.
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Benoit Durand, a grain farmer, told French broadcaster BFM TV: “We are holding a siege in Chartres, one hour away from Paris. It’s part of the blockade... the goal is to put pressure on the government.
“[Blockading Paris] will happen naturally. Parisians are going to be hungry. The goal is to starve Parisians. That’s it”.
Eight motorways in the paris region were captured by the farmers as a local union leader vowed to hold onto them “day and night”.
Paris could be left with only three days’ worth of food supplies if the demonstrations result in a major disruption scenario, according to government agency Ademe.
French farmers are the European Union's biggest agricultural producer and have long-lamented the fierce competition posed by countries with lighter regulations.
Dozens of tractors lined up near Beauvais, north of Paris, today in scenes which were reflected across several major cities, seizing major motorways integral to the flow of food and supplies.
Banners that read: “Our end will be your hunger” - a slogan which is a play on the similar-sounding French words fin (end) and faim (hunger) - could be seen amongst the ranks of tractors choking off major motorways.
Tensions rose between demonstrators and police as armored vehicles were deployed to Rungis on Monday as France stepped up security measures after some farmers threatened to “occupy” it.
Over 8,000 tons of goods pass through Rungis market - the main market in Paris - every day to feed nearly 12 million people.
All four of the motorways leading into and out of Toulouse were also blockaded by farmers with reports indicating that it was near impossible to leave the city.
Interior minister Gerland Darmanin said the security measure was taken to ensure that no tractor entered Paris, but warned that disruption could affect the Ile-de-France region, which covers Paris.
The French farner’s protest has already seen damage to property and government buildings, with dramatic scenes of farmers pulling up to offices and spraying them with jets of manure and dumping piles of dung at their doorsteps.
France's President Emmanuel Macron is expected to meet with the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Thursday to discuss how the EU can support farmers, French media reports.