'Bonne chance': Jeremy Clarkson backs French farmers as they threaten to 'starve Paris' in mass tractor protest

30 January 2024, 18:01

Jeremy Clarkson has backed France's protesting farmers
Jeremy Clarkson has backed France's protesting farmers. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Jeremy Clarkson has wished France's protesting farmers "good luck" as they lay siege to Paris over pay and regulations.

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The former Top Gear host launched his own agricultural career that he's documented in the smash hit Amazon Prime series Clarkson's Farm.

And he's used his fame and the show's popularity to highlight farming issues.

He has now extended that to his colleagues over the Channel, who are furious at the pay they receive and burdensome environmental rules.

Clarkson tweeted in French: "French farmers. I bet no one has ever said that before, but good luck, coming from England."

Read more: Jeremy Clarkson reveals secret health battle that led to him losing one stone in weight

Protesters set up a tractor blockade around Paris which one grain farmer said was a "siege" that had the goal of "starving Parisians".

About 800 machines went to surround the capital on Monday while armoured police cars were sent to a market in Rungis, southern Paris, amid fears farmers would block the sale of food there that feeds millions.

Some made their way on a go-slow from the south of France but police managed to divert them halfway up on Tuesday morning.

The French government has warned if Paris's food supply was seriously disrupted it would only have three days' worth of supplies.

Police have said about 500 tractors and 1,000 farmers are barricading roads across the country and the protests could get worse.

Read more: French farmers to ‘starve Parisians’ with tractor blockade

Farmers are upset at government measures to bring food inflation down, leaving them struggling to pay for energy and farm supplies that also cost more.

They are also angry at facing the loss of a tax break on diesel fuel as part of an eco initiative.

French farmers block the A10 road at Longvilliers
French farmers block the A10 road at Longvilliers. Picture: Alamy

Trade with Ukraine, which has had barriers to exports reduced since Russia's invasion, is also an issue - as are EU negotiations with Mercosur, the South American bloc.

Brussels has upset the farmers with its subsidy rules, while domestic issues like animal welfare standards linger.

Gabriel Attal, France's newly appointed prime minister, has pledged to ease an EU rule about fallow land and pledged to extend a fund that helps wine makers to farmers.

France is no stranger to labour disputes and chaotic protests. The farmers have been backed by the public, who appear to back their action, and by bakers, who have brought croissants and baguettes to the tractor blockades.

However, FNSEA, the biggest farming union in the country, has rowed back on the idea that the "Siege of Paris" is a bid to starve people into submitting to their demands.

"Our objective is not to starve French people, but to feed them," its leader Arnaud Rousseau said.

Farmers have also been protesting in Germany, where Berlin was heavily disrupted, Belgium and Romania.

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