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Angered Farmers Move Into Central Paris On Tractors Ahead Of Agriculture Fair

23.02.2024 18:27

Major farmers' union FNSEA refuses to attend 'grand debate' planned by President Macron at fair.

By Nur Asena Erturk

ANKARA (AA) — Protesting Farmers moved into central Paris on Friday with their tractors ahead of the launch of the Paris Agriculture Fair, local media reported.

The convoy of tractors rallied outside and in the French capital, parking at the historical Invalides Square near the Eiffel Tower, according to the daily Le Figaro.

They are planning to head to the fair venue at night, ahead of a "grand debate" planned by French President Emmanuel Macron to address farmers' groups on Saturday.

However, a decision to include an environmental group, Soulevements de la Terre (SLT), in the debate had sparked ire among the farmers, long frustrated by regulations in the sector.

The government then rescinded its invitation after harsh backlash, as SLT is accused of promoting violence during previous farmer protests in the western town of Sainte-Soline last March, the same source added.

In a statement on X, the Elysee, the French presidency, maintained that the group was "neither invited nor disinvited."

Agro-industry and farmers' union FNSEA had asked the government to dissolve the SLT last year.

Arnaud Rousseau, head of the FNSEA, one of the leading unions in the farmers movement that began in mid-January, told broadcaster RMC that it would not attend the debate.

The FNSEA and Young Farmers (JA), another union, said they were prepared to keep demonstrating in front of the fair hall until Macron's arrival.

Farmers started protesting across France last month for better wages, simplified administration, no new bans on pesticides, an end to tractor fuel price hikes, and better compensation after disasters.

They also contested the rising pressure of EU regulations, including rules related to the bloc's Green Deal and the Common Agricultural Policy.

They have blocked highways in southwestern France, with some groups extending the protests to Paris.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced two separate groups of measures, including the withdrawal of a plan to raise taxes on agricultural fuel.

Those announcements has not satisfied farmers, who criticize the government for slow implementation and lack of concrete measures. -

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