Europe, Farmer Protest Spreads, Von Der Leyen Tries Mediation

Farmer protests in Europe have increased in recent weeks. Holland, Germany, France, Italy, and others fear the consequences for this green course industry. It was Germany that started this movement after agricultural subsidies and diesel rebates were cut there in order to close a $60 billion hole in the federal budget. The latest to join the protests was France. There were a series of demonstrations and “five blockades” declared in Paris by the French labor union FDSEA, starting in the afternoon of January 26. The stated goal is ambitious – “to blockade Paris.”

European farmers typically protest rules that they believe are too strict for the industry and are linked to measures to minimize emissions and mitigate negative environmental impacts. Then there are demands for simplified administrative procedures, the lifting of bans on pesticides, and – especially prevalent in Italy – the question of the dangers posed by insect flour and “cultivated meat.” However, other countries, such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania, are protesting primarily against imports of cheap products, such as poultry meat from Ukraine.

In other words, there is a lack of balance between economic, environmental, and social objectives. For this reason, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is trying to take action by convening a meeting with three dozen representatives of the EU agricultural sector to start a dialog. It could be the basis, on which the Union’s agricultural reform policy would eventually be formulated.

“There is growing polarization on agricultural issues; I am deeply convinced that we can only overcome it through dialogue,” von der Leyen said. The President of the European Commission also recognized that farmers are often the most vulnerable in the value chain. “Our goal is to support your livelihoods and ensure European food security,” von der Leyen concluded, addressing the farmers.