Macron booed by French farmers as he visits Paris agricultural fair

24 February 2024, 15:44

French President Emmanuel Macron at the agriculture fair
France Agriculture Fair. Picture: PA

Farmers across Europe have been protesting against EU agriculture policies, bureaucracy and overall business conditions.

French President Emmanuel Macron was greeted with boos and whistles at the opening of an agricultural fair on Saturday by angry farmers who blame him for not doing enough to support them.

Mr Macron was scheduled to visit the event, which draws crowds of visitors every year.

But before the official opening, several dozen protesters forced their way through security barriers and entered the site as the president was arriving.

Farmers have been protesting for months across France, including Paris, to demand better living conditions, simpler regulations and better protection against foreign competition they see as unfair.

Emmanuel Macron speaks to farmers at the fair
Emmanuel Macron speaks to farmers at the fair (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

Police in full riot gear were deployed at the fair in Paris to prevent them from getting close to Mr Macron, who had a planned meeting with the heads of France’s main farmers’ unions.

Meanwhile, protesters chanted slogans calling for Mr Macron to “resign” and blew into whistles to show their anger.

“We won’t be able to respond to the farming crisis in a few hours,” Mr Macron said. “It has taken months, years of work for those who came here to present their cattle, their work… This fair must go well and calmly.”

Three weeks ago, farmers lifted roadblocks around Paris and elsewhere around the country after the government offered more than 400 million euros in aid and tax breaks.

“Anger can be expressed,” Mr Macron said, warning against any “violence”.

The French president decided to meet with groups of protesters in a separate room.

Farmers protest at the agriculture fair in Paris
Farmers protest at the agriculture fair in Paris (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

He promised “floor prices” will be established for each product to “guarantee farmers’ income”. He also said an emergency plan to financially relieve the most struggling farms will start being implemented on Monday.

Mr Macron said a meeting will be held at the Elysee presidential palace in March to build “a plan for the future of farming” with farmers’ unions and other key players in the food industry.

One farmer asked the president to say “in front the cameras you are going to give oxygen to the farmers… Do that and I guarantee you will calm everyone down”.

Mr Macron answered: “You have grievances. You do not have a government that’s completely deaf… It’s not true that nothing’s been done.”

Farmers across Europe have been protesting against EU agriculture policies, bureaucracy and overall business conditions.

Farmers complain that the 27-nation bloc’s environmental policies, such as the Green Deal, which calls for limits on the use of chemicals and on greenhouse gas emissions, limit their business and make their products more expensive than non-European Union imports.

On Friday, farmers on their tractors staged a demonstration in the streets of Paris before the Agricultural Fair.

By Press Association

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