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European Union: Farmers flex their power [print version]

Belgian famers protest against plans to limit nitrogen emissions, Brussels, March 2023. Photo "https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Alexandros_Michailidis"/shutterstock.com.

After years of simmering discontent, farmers’ protests are spreading across EU member countries. Thousands of farmers have been taking action, taking to the roads to demand that the EU supports food production.

There are specific national grievances, but the common demands are for changes in EU farming policies, measures to deal with huge rises in production costs (particularly energy), and measures to combat drought.

The EU’s climate and environment policies target the agricultural sector – tax hikes, increased costs for fuel and animal feed and the obligation to set aside land for biodiversity. EU policies are strangling small and medium-sized farmers with rising energy costs, unfair trade practices and free trade agreements.

And on top of all that, net zero polices look to farmers to reduce carbon emissions from their animals! In other words, to shut down livestock farms. This has caused political upheaval, particularly in the Netherlands.

• A longer version of this article is on the web at www.cpbml.org.uk