European farmers stage new wave of protests

Feb. 15, 2024 In Europe–Tractors Keep Their Engines Running…


Here is another short Update No. 5 on the European Farmer Leaders Protest.

I sent this out to U.S. farm leaders last night.

Thank You,

Bob Baker


Director of Schiller Institute Agricultural Commission

and Executive Intelligence News Service, Inc.


European farmers stage new wave of protests

17th February 2024, 03:18 GMT+11

The spectacular tractorcades and other protests staged for weeks now by farmers and allies throughout Europe have succeeded in pushing back certain planks of the European Union’s “Green Deal” (May, 2020 “Farm to Fork”), which is no minor accomplishment. And there are a few other concessions from Brussels and from individual governments, often hollow. But there is yet no decisive success in getting agriculture policy—and all economic policy—opened up for fundamental reworking to serve public interests, not the “financial complex.” There are new rounds of protests underway, and planned for the near future.

The official farmers associations in some countries—e.g. France, the biggest EU farming nation, suspended large-scale protests for the time being, after obtaining the promise of concessions, but this is contingent on government follow-through. Meantime actions have spread to many other countries, including Ireland, Spain, Bulgaria and Poland, and are planned for the end of the month in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

In France next week, the annual ‘Salon of Agriculture’ is a deadline by which French farmers want to see the government make good faith changes to the impossible farming conditions, or farmer protests resume.

In Italy today, Feb. 15, was a major action with tractors and demonstrations in Rome at the Circus Maximus, and other sites. Media may play down that the turnout was below the 20,000 planned for, but that takes nothing away from the reality of the upsurge, including collaboration among different farm leadership groups, which have big differences. The Comitati Riuniti Agricoli (CRA), the most radical among the associations, has rejected the concessions proferred by the Meloni government. Hundreds of tractors surrounded Rome Feb. 8-9, and protested in other cities. One of the government concessions, for example, is to waive income tax for any farmer—but only at or under an annual income of 10,000 euro ($10,765)!

In Germany, which kicked off the waves of protests with its week of action Jan. 8-15, there are singular demonstrations almost every day. There are actions against the lying media. On Feb. 9, tractors blocked a hub of the Axel Springer publishing group near Hamburg, and delayed delivery of the major press, including the Hamburger Abendblatt (Hamburg Evening Press), Bild, Die Welt and others.

On Feb. 14 the Green Party (part of the Berlin tri-party government) had to cancel its political, post-carnival Ash Wednesday event, when protesting farmers brought their tractors to Biberach, supported by truckers and others with their vehicles and banners. Police used tear gas against them, but in the end party big wigs, including the Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir, and Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, had no event.

On Feb. 12, 400 tractors showed up at Unterluess, in the state of Lower Saxony, against budget cuts for the civilian sector (farming, health care, railway upkeep, etc.) at the ground-breaking ceremony for a new munitions factory by Rheinmetall, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Pistorius looking on. This was a direct confrontation against Scholz’s new militarization policy.

A new group called “Mittelstand Community” (meaning ‘medium sized enterprise’ community) was formed this past week by farmers, factory workers, truckers and others, after they staged joint demonstrations at the Chemcoast industrial complex at Brunsbuettel, at the western end of the Kiel Canal.

In Ireland, in addition to the imports of agricultural products at prices with which local farmers cannot compete, a hot issue is the intent of the government to cull 200,000 cows on the rationalization to cut emissions to save the planet.

In Poland, farmers vehemently oppose the European Commission’s decision to allow duty-free imports of grain and other items from Ukraine. They have been holding protests at border crossings with both Ukraine and Germany. Grain farm income has dropped 40% in one year in Poland, as the Ukraine grain comes in. Earlier this week, farmers at the Poland-Ukraine border opened the tailgates on several trucks, spilling Ukraine grain on the highway.

Slovak farmers are ready to join their colleagues in Poland, and neighboring countries of the Visegrad group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) to oppose the Ukraine food dumping, and the EU’s “green fanaticism.” Farm representatives of these nations had a coordination meeting Feb. 12-13 for joint action, with the aim of demonstrations by the end of February.

In Spain, farmers’ protests have been joined by cab drivers and truckers. Lola Gúzman Sáez, spokesperson for Platform 6F welcomed the decision by the “National Platform for the Defense of the Transport Sector,” which brings together 20,000 self-employed transport companies and small and medium-sized enterprises, to join forces with farmers to call for an “indefinite national strike” as of Feb. 10. That day, independent truckers, farmers and others staged a protest in front of the metropolitana stadium in Madrid, Two of Spain’s trade union federations, the CCOO and UGT issued statements of support to the strike. A big rally took place in Barcelona on Feb. 13, and another national rally is planned in Madrid on Feb. 21.

In Greece farmers were to decide today what their next move is, in reaction to the demands by the Mitsotakis government to make certain concessions, but otherwise impose limitations on farmers’ organizing and demonstrations. They have staged dramatic protests from milk-dumping, to blockades of the international highways in Greece.

Across Europe, the decline in economic conditions at large, not just the impossibility of farmers continuing to operate at a loss, is documented in new economic figures for 2023, if anyone needs data to “prove” there’s an economic breakdown. Look at manufacturing in Germany and Italy, for example, which together account for 45% of EU (27 nations) manufacturing output. Germany’s 2023 industrial output fell 1.5% in 2023; Italy’s fell 2.5%. Thousands of German firms and units of operation are moving out, in particular to Poland, where energy is relatively reliable, or shutting down. The UK is now officially in recession, and so on. Thank you