French farmers block roads to protest rising taxes

Hundreds of farmers protested against government regarding increase of taxes, falling French food prices

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Hundreds of tractors were heading towards Paris for a protest due to take place on September 3, 2015.

Hundreds of French farmers headed towards the Place de la Nation in the eastern part of the capital on Thursday, riding on 1,733 tractors, spray-painted with "anger" or "enough bureaucracy" - along with a few cows - that blocked highways in a bid to protest their anger over the decreasing prices for their goods and high taxes, according to reports from the Protest organizer National Federation of Agricultural Holders' Unions (FNSEA), France's largest farming union.

Farmers slowly approached Paris with more than 1,300 farm tractors, 91 coach buses and 50 automobiles from Brittany, Normandy and several other French regions, police said.

The protest was noisy, eye-catching, and disruptive, according to BBC's Hugh Schofield, reporting from Paris.

Protesting farmers blamed their inability to compete in Eastern Europe’s economy, much less beyond is due to cheap imports and high payroll charges, placing the maximum possible pressure on President Francois Hollande's Socialist government.

Livestock and dairy farmers in particular have been badly affected by the falling prices in international markets, and farmers claim that French agriculture is on the verge of collapse.

They demanded tax breaks from the government and a decisive EU action to level the playing field with neighboring countries.

Signs on the tractors that read "Our taxes are killing us" (L) and "I am a farmer".

Some farmers claimed they were planning to head to the Parliament later in the day.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that he will be meeting with the head of FNSEA on Thursday in a bid to boost his plans for structural reforms in the farming sector.

Grain farmer Pierre Bot, from Vauhallan - located south of Pari s- admittedly told the AP news agency that "it's not popular to annoy all the people on their way to work..Nevertheless, it's one of the only ways to make ourselves heard."

Bot added that he feels he is being pushed aside, along with many small time farmers, by factory farms and fears for what could lead to in the future.

Farming "is part of the French identity," he said.

Dairy farmer Maxime Pilorget told French TV that he was losing money at a very rapid rate due to the daily income he was receiving for his cows' milk being way less than the cost of producing it.

"Morally, the hardest thing is to be unable to make a living from my work," he said.

French farmers have been particularly vocal this summer, dumping manure in cities, blocking access to roads and stopping tourists from travelling to the popular Mont Saint-Michel island in northern France.

A pan-European protest is expected to take place on Monday in Brussels amid a meeting of EU agriculture ministers.

TRTWorld and agencies