French and German Farmers’ Tractorcades in Major Cities Protest Farm Crisis, Eco-Madness
Oct. 22, 2019 (EIRNS)—After major demonstrations in the Netherlands in recent weeks, on Oct. 22, hundreds of farmers from Germany and France parked their tractors in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg and handed in their demands in person to resolve the farm crisis.
In Germany, protests took place in at least 17 cities, including Berlin, Bonn, Munich, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Hanover, Freiburg, Bayreuth, Erfurt, Oldenburg, and Görlitz. They have been organized by a movement known as “Land schafft Verbindung,” which brought together tens of thousands of farmers through social media platforms.
According to German police, by 10 this morning around 200 tractors and other agricultural equipment arrived from Brandenburg to Berlin. In Bonn, where Germany’s Agriculture Ministry is headquartered, a further 10,000 protesters drove 1,000 tractors to the city center to join a rally.
Protesters called on German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) to withdraw current agricultural and climate policies, and instead consult with farmers. A particular bone of contention is a new package introduced in early September that legislated for more nature and animal “protection” in agriculture.
In France, thousands of farmers protested today throughout the country in front of the prefectures of each region and department. Lack of respect for their work and low prices for producers are a major concern. As a result, farmers are leaving agriculture, and farmer suicides are numerous and constant.
As of this year, French farms have dropped to 460,000, as compared to 750,000 two decades ago. One-quarter of French farmers are unmarried—twice the rate of the general population. And despite the doubling of farm sizes in the last two decades, 40% French farmers earn less than €4,320 a year in farming. Without their subsidies from Brussels, tens of thousands of them would such losses, they would have to leave farming.
Whereas in 1979, the individual French farmer could feed 15 people, each farm now produces enough to feed 60 people. “We feed people, but farming doesn’t feed us,” said Philippe Grégoire, a dairy farmer was quoted as telling media.
President Emmanuel Macron promised much, but delivered nothing.
Some of the factors feeding farmers’ anger throughout Europe are:
1) Climate hysteria. Farmers and “intensive agriculture” are accused of causing climate change, blamed for consumer fears and shifts away from eating meat and dairy.
2) The phase-out of the controversial weed killer glyphosate by 2023 and plans to drastically reduce nitrate levels in the groundwater by cutting out certain fertilizers.
3) Free trade agreements, such as Mercosur with Latin America or the CETA with Canada.
4) The impact of $7.5 billion worth of sanctions by the U.S. that came into effect on Oct. 18, against European imports, such as specialty cheeses.
5) Unfair prices. Supermarkets are squeezing farmer prices.
6) The phasing out, since the 1990s, of the guaranteed farm prices once offered by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), worsened by the Brexit. If the U.K. leaves the EU, Brussels will have less income and will reduce farm subsidies. The European Commission announced last year that, post-Brexit, it needed to cut the CAP budget by 5% from 2021.