Farmers blockade roads in protest at low prices and excessive red tape

Protesting farmers blocked access to the E42 motorway at Villers-le-Bouillet in Wallonia on Saturday. The action is part of wider protests in many European countries, for better prices and less stringent European standards.

“We are here to raise public awareness, but also to sound the alarm with politicians,” said Aline Depas of the Fédération Wallonne de l'Agriculture (FWA). “We demand a simplification of administration, more understandable legislation and a better income. Commodity prices are soaring, but prices for our crops and livestock are not growing with them.”

Around 100 farmers set up a smaller blockade at a roundabout on the N4 in Wierde, Namur province. Actions are also taking place in Libramont, Tournai, Soignies and Corbais. According to the FWA, the action should end at 18.00. 

On Friday, farmers from France and Belgium protested at Aubange in the province of Luxembourg. About 100 Belgian farmers drove tractors towards the border post, where the border was briefly blocked. Blockades were also organised on the A28 motorway on both sides of the border. 

In France, the largest farmers’ organisations have been blocking roads and staging protests across the country for eight days. The government closed 400 km of motorway in the south as a precaution after a convoy of nearly 600 vehicles, including 315 tractors, gathered at a toll station near the southern city of Montpellier on Friday morning. 

Associations have confirmed they will continue their action, as they protest against falling incomes, administrative complexity and changing or overly strict rules.

On Friday, prime minister Gabriel Attal promised to cancel an increase in the price of red diesel for agricultural vehicles and sanctions against companies not complying with laws intended to protect farmers’ incomes in negotiations with industrialists and supermarkets. 

“We have decided to put agriculture above everything else," Attal said. “Today a new chapter must be opened for agriculture and we are going to write that chapter together.”

However, farmers’ associations say the measures are insufficient. Organisations from the Lot-et-Garonne region plan to drive to Paris on Monday to block the Rungis wholesale market, the largest in Europe.

On Saturday, meanwhile, a white march took place in Pamiers, south of Toulouse, in memory of a 35-year-old woman and her 12-year-old daughter who died this week when a motorist hit three people at a blockade.

Farmers block a road in Villers-le-Bouillet, 27 January 2024. Protests accross Europe are growing as they demand better conditions to grow produce and maintain a proper income © BELGA PHOTO /VIDEO DIDIER DE HOE / Tribute to farmer Alexandra Sonac and her daughter Camille, who died at a roadblock in Pamiers, France © PHOTO PATRICIA HUCHOT-BOISSIER/ABACAPRESS.COM

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