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Mass protests by farmers across Europe

Масови протести на фермери в цяла Европа

The European Commission has launched "strategic" talks with farmers' organisations, agribusinesses, NGOs and experts on ways to "mitigate farm anger" in a growing number of European countries.

Key issues will be on the agenda, including the green deal, farm income, sustainable farming practices, technological innovation and competitiveness and other topics of concern to the sector.

We chronologically tracked some of the issues that caused discontent in various parts of the 27-member bloc ahead of this year's European Parliament elections.

Discontent among the Dutch agricultural sector began in June 2022, when the government unveiled plans to reduce nitrogen emissions by reducing the country's herd of 4 million cows by nearly a third and possibly closing some farms.

Months of demonstrations followed and a wave of support for the young farming party BBB, which made a significant breakthrough in the Senate elections in March 2023. Today, it continues to attract support from the farming community, which sees urban elites in The Hague, Amsterdam and Brussels they don't understand her problems.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, discontent in the eastern part of the EU (Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria) has also escalated, with farmers complaining of unfair competition for cut-price cereals from Ukraine, which is not part of the bloc.

In Western Europe, the situation also brought the sector to the streets. In Germany, farmers are protesting over the government's plan to scrap fuel tax breaks for agricultural machinery and other subsidies.

On January 8, they began a week of national rallies, blocking several city centers and major thoroughfares with hordes of noisy tractors, and vowed to press ahead with their demands.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition government has agreed to delay the cuts from now until January 2026 and cut red tape.

Farmers in France are also irritated about rising production costs and environmental regulations. In the fall, they turned the road signs upside down to show the world that nothing was wrong with the sector.

As of today, they are blocking highways in the southwest and gathering at roundabouts. The powerful farming union FNSEA is planning other forms of protest after a meeting with Prime Minister-elect Gabriel Atal on Monday failed to produce a breakthrough.

Two days ago, Greece also became the arena of farmers' discontent. At the heart of the farmers' demands are compensation for lost income due to a reduction in production caused by the great damage caused by weather phenomena and diseases, but also a reduction in production costs, protection from natural disasters with the implementation of all necessary infrastructure projects, as well and amending the ELGA regulation to insure and compensate 100% of production and capital against all natural risks and diseases at all stages of production.

Great Britain may separate from the EU, but the problems facing the country do not end there. Fruit and vegetable growers last week put 49 scarecrows in front of parliament to represent the 49% of farmers who say they are on the brink of leaving the industry because of "unfair" treatment from the country's powerful supermarket chains.

Supermarkets are "bringing British agriculture to its knees," Guy Singh-Watson, founder of fruit and vegetable box delivery firm Riverford Organic, told AFP, adding that government policies failed to adequately support the sector and were rarely implemented.

According to many, the farm unrest is just beginning and could spread to other parts of the EU. "There is talk of protests in Italy and Spain," said Christiane Lambert, head of Europe's leading farmers' union, the Committee of Professional Agricultural Organizations (COPA).

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