The Young Farmers Union (Jeunes Agriculteurs) said, “We have no intention of entering Paris. Any riots are unacceptable. According to officials, Le Monde reported that there were “almost 800 tractors” in the Paris basin on Monday afternoon. Farmers want to block eight important access roads “indefinitely”. Media reported that up to 2,500 tractors were anticipated from farmers' associations.
Arnaud Rousseau, president of FNSEA, the largest farmers' union, announced shift times so that demonstrators could take turns resting during protests. Individual farmer networks are ready to mobilize for days or even weeks, a representative of the young farmers told Le Figaro. “(Prime Minister, Note) Gabriel Atal's announcements will determine the outcome of mobilization.”
However, some protesters expressed a preference to speak directly to French President Emmanuel Macron instead of Atal. So far, Macron has walked away from the platform at Attal standing in public during the farmers' protests.
15,000 security forces have been mobilized
A total of 30 sectors and 16 highways were affected. Interior Minister Gerald Dorman's advance tightened security measures and 15,000 security forces were deployed. At the same time, he called on the police and gendarmerie to exercise restraint: “Law enforcement officials must exercise great restraint. At the same time, he called on farmers to exercise “moderation.”
“We are at a certain distance, we don't want violence,” said FNSEA President Rousseau. “Until our demands are met, we will remain fully mobilized.” The farmers' union presented a list of 140 demands and saw only a fraction of the government's concessions being met.
Concessions from Govt
After the first week of protests, Prime Minister Attal already announced relief on Friday; The manuscript of his speech was in a haystack. He withdrew the repeal of tax breaks for agricultural diesel and promised concrete measures to cut red tape, 100 million euros for farmers and the storm-hit organic sector, and emergency funding for livestock farmers.
On Sunday he promised more measures against unfair competition from other countries. “That's Katzenlulu,” Le Figaro quoted the angry reaction of a cattle farmer from western France.
Action against EU environmental regulations
On Monday, France's Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau continued in an interview with the France 2 television channel. The government will soon table plans to support farmers. This includes replacing EU environmental regulations for agricultural land under biodiversity rules passed by the EU Parliament last year as part of the Nature Restoration Act.
Farmers are complaining that their business is affected due to this. But there is no consensus among farmers. Organic farmers, for example, are demanding more government support to defend themselves against cheaper competition from abroad. The government is trying to contain the protests, fearing a surge in support for the far-right among farmers in EU elections in June. Marine Le Pen and her party, the right-wing Rassemblement National, are already trying to create a mood for EU elections. Le Pen even arrived in a moving tractor on Sunday to support farmers.
Ecosystems show solidarity with farmers
Various eco-systems supported farmers. “It is very possible to work for the environment and sustainable agriculture at the same time,” said a call signed by Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion. In the Liberation newspaper, some organizations criticized the “practical discourse that makes us enemies”.