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European Commission Responds to Escalating Farmer Protests with Concessions

Germany 07.02.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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In the face of mounting farmer protests across the European Union, the European Commission has yielded ground, making concessions in an attempt to alleviate the escalating situation.
European Commission Responds to Escalating Farmer Protests with Concessions
Amidst ongoing demonstrations, which initially gained momentum in Germany and later saw thousands of farmers in France and Belgium participating with over 1,300 tractors, the European Commission has acknowledged the concerns raised by farmers.

Recent protests have taken a more intense turn, with dozens of farmers in France arrested as they sought to block Rungis, a vital food distribution hub serving 12 million people. In Belgium, farmers gathered outside the European Parliament in Brussels, throwing eggs at buildings and igniting fires across the region. The protestors expressed their frustration over the European Commission's reduction of financial support for agriculture through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the introduction of what they perceive as unattainable environmental regulations.

Key points of contention for farmers include the reduction in subsidies, the challenges posed by environmental regulations, and the impact of initiatives such as the European Green Deal, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and the law on nature restoration focused on enhancing biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems.

Isabel Proost, a farmer from Flanders in Belgium, emphasized the need for unity in addressing farmers' concerns across Europe: "We must finally wake up and, together with all of Europe, fight for a common cause: the ability to pursue the profession of farming for us and our children."

While the European Commission insisted it was attentive to farmers' grievances, it made some concessions, allowing farmers to bring fallow land back into production. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, pledged to present a proposal to reduce administrative burdens at an upcoming EU ministers' meeting.

Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, highlighted the Commission's flexibility and solidarity with farmers, stating, "This derogation strikes a balance between the short-term necessity of supporting farmers and the long-term need to protect our climate, soil health, and biodiversity."

Farm lobby groups have expressed their concerns in a letter to Von der Leyen, pointing out economic burdens and bureaucracy that are strangling farmers across the EU. As European Parliament elections loom in June, attention is focused on potential political repercussions, with concerns that far-right parties, gaining traction among farmers, could make significant gains.
Maks Fasteyev
Maks Fasteyev
Dairy Project Partner at INFAGRO Ltd.
Last week, at the invitation of Alexander Anton and the European Dairy Association, I took part in the annual hashtag#EDA Dairy Policy Conference hashtag#NextGenEUDairy.
C.S. Hagen
C.S. Hagen
award-winning journalist, The Vault
From 1932 until 1940, the milk wars stretched across the Great Plains and beyond, claiming lives and leaving a path of destruction as dairy workers and farmers struggled to survive.
April 2024
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