france farmer
Protesting farmers blocked roads across France on Wednesday to press the government to ease its drive for lower consumer prices and loosen environmental regulations.

Many farmers struggle financially and say their livelihoods are threatened as food retailers are increasing pressure to bring down prices after a period of high inflation.

Comment: Supermarkets have been caught artificially raising their prices for a variety of goods, meanwhile they're refusing to pay producers the cost of production.

In addition, without subsidies a significant number of Europe's farmers would go out of business, however this is largely down to government incompetence and corruption; such as the anti-Russia sanctions restricting access to affordable fuel and fertilizer, alongside strict regulations that aren't applicable to goods imported from other countries.

"There are too many regulations," Thomas Bonnet, the head of a youth farmers' union in southwestern France's Castelnaudary area, told Reuters at a blockade.

"We'd like to be able to work like in some of the neighbouring countries, to produce, cultivate, do our job."

Arnaud Rousseau, head of the powerful FNSEA farming union, told France 2 TV he could not rule out that protests could disrupt the Paris region. The group will publish dozens of specific demands by the end of the day, he said.

Farming policy has long been a sensitive issue in France, the European Union's biggest agricultural producer, with thousands of independent producers of wine, meat and dairy. Farmers have a track record of disruptive protests.

Fearing a spillover from farmer unrest in Germany, Poland and Romania, President Emmanuel Macron's government has already withdrawn a contested draft farming law that would have helped more people become farmers.

Macron is also wary of farmers' growing support for the far-right ahead of the European Parliament elections in June.

Comment: This 'far-right fear' nonsense is a tactic being used by the establishment across Europe to smear people and movements whose legitimate grievances expose their corruption; Germany is employing similar methods to divide people and smear its farmers, as well as the AfD party.

However, judging by the thousands of people attending the 'anti-far right' protests in Germany this week, the establishment strategy is having some impact. Considering Germany's support for Israel, one wonders how many of those protesters were also protesting Germany's descent (back) into being genocide facilitators?

The unrest is the first major challenge for new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and also resonates across Europe.

"The reality is that most of the farmers cannot make their living off the products they are producing," Thomas Waitz, a Green EU lawmaker from Austria, who is also a farmer and beekeeper, told Reuters.

As the EU's Green Deal of environmental policies is rolled out, farmers' increased work and costs need to be reflected in product prices, Waitz said. He urged the 27-member EU to make sure imported goods also have to meet high environmental standards to avoid unfair competition.

A small group of French farmers also protested near the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels.

"The message is that we should stop being caught in the middle," said Philippe Thomas, 57, a cereals farmer from a Meuse in eastern France. "They impose more and more draconian standards on us, but on the other hand our produce isn't protected."

In France, farmer discontent over prices is particularly acute in the dairy sector, where producers say the government's anti-inflation push has undermined legislation known as EGALIM designed to safeguard farmgate prices.

Dairy producers are currently in dispute with Lactalis, the world's largest dairy group, over prices, and talks with an arbitrator are due on Thursday.

"If the EGALIM law is respected there will be far fewer protests, that's the case in the dairy sector, I can tell you," Thierry Roquefeuil, head of dairy farmer union FNPL, told reporters on Tuesday.