Thousands of French farmers accompanied by hundreds of tractors descended upon the capital of Paris in response to the government’s adoption of the latest EU green agenda diktat.
In what is reported to be the largest farmer demonstration in France since 2019, some 500 tractors and thousands more people converged on Paris on Wednesday to protest against the decision last month by the government of Emmanuel Macron to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides for sugar beets following a ruling from the EU’s Court of Justice.
The protest was the culmination of months of dissatisfaction from the nation’s farmers, who have increasingly been gathering throughout the country to not only decry the increasingly difficult regulations, but also the soaring cost of production due to the energy crisis and a lack of water storage for irrigation.
Speaking to Le Parisien, one farmer said: “My brother grows beets and I use beet by-products as fertiliser. Without them, we are exposed to risks of disease in our crops.”
Another told broadcaster BFMTV: “As a user of neonicotinoids, I don’t feel like I’m poisoning the world.”
While the type of insecticides, which are related to nicotine, are believed to be less toxic to mammals and reduce the overall need for pesticides as they are applied as seed coatings rather than being sprayed on fields. However, it has been reported that they can have a negative impact on bee populations and therefore the EU is seeking to eliminate their use.
The large demonstration brought sections of Paris to a near standstill on Tuesday, and has apparently forced the government to accept a meeting with protest leaders. Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau met with a small delegation of farmers in the morning to “discuss the challenges they face and the future of the agricultural sectors” and will hold a further meeting on Thursday with beet sector representatives to “present a plan of action and support in response to the European decision”.