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No Let-Up in Farmers’ Protests in Europe

A wave of protests continues to sweep across Europe.

Tractors Are Converging on Rome: Hundreds of tractors coming from many regions of central Italy have concentrated around Rome and more are coming from more distant localities. Up to 2,000 tractors are expected. After negotiations with Rome police authorities, organizers said the tractorcade will start on Feb. 8 and will last several days, and thanked police officials who have escorted tractor convoys to the capital.

Greek Farmers Launch National Protest Actions: Greek farmers have decided to launch a nationwide mobilization to win support for their demands. Farmer representatives met Nikaia, Larissa, on Feb. 6 and decided to launch actions on Feb. 7, among them a tractor rally next week in Athens. They are demanding duty-free agricultural diesel, cheaper electricity, subsidies on supplies and animal feed, the renegotiation of the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy and full compensation for lost income and a stop to the labeling of non-Greek produce as Greek.

The government issued a statement claiming that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is willing to meet the farmers—on the condition that the roads remain open and there are no disruptions of transport and the economy. Otherwise a meeting would not take place. This has not impressed the farmers since they have said the concessions the government has proposed do not go far enough. The government’s other condition for talks to go ahead is that it knows who it is talking to, as the farmers’ front is fragmented.

Farmer protests in Netherlands: Hundreds of Dutch farmers have blocked several highways in the country, according to Germany’s DPA press agency. They set fire to bales of straw and wood, the police in the east of the country announced on the X portal on Feb. 5. Manure, slurry and waste were dumped on roads and in front of town halls. In several places, the safety of other road users was not guaranteed. In addition, around 150 tractors gathered on the A50 near Apeldoorn. Farmers set fires and set off fireworks. According to police reports, the A7 was also blocked in the north of Amsterdam after farmers set fire to hay bales and car tires.

Spanish Farmers Block Highways for Second Day: Farmers organizing outside the established farm associations and without their backing shocked Spain on Feb. 6 when their tractors shut down highways “in almost all of Spain.” The protests continued on Feb. 7, with 1,250 tractors rolling into Barcelona, where the president of the Autonomous Community of Catalunya and its Minister of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda decided they better meet with the farmers. Dozens of key highways were blocked in nine other Autonomous Communities: Murcia, Extremadura, Navarra, La Rioja, Castilla y León, Comunidad Valenciana, Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón and Andalucía—a smaller number than the first day, but with enough effect such that Spain’s biggest fast-moving consumer goods companies today demanded the Interior Minister take action to ensure free circulation of transport. In Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tried to cool things out by promising that the national “Food Chain Law,” which prohibits sales at a loss, will be strengthened; farmers were not impressed. He also talked vaguely about ensuring the imported foods meet the same standards as those imposed on Spanish farmers and seeking changes in the EU Common Agricultural Policy, but he said nothing about the big issue of the insane, anti-agriculture “green” regulations.

Where this particular strike action goes next is up in the air. Farmers in some areas promise to keep their tractors out on the highways until midday on Feb. 8, others until Feb. 10, others have gone back home for now, but the ferment has not lessened. Reports are circulating that the independent truckers will block traffic on Feb. 10, and the region-by-region protests scheduled by the established farm associations also started this week; they are to culminate in a big protest rally in Madrid on Feb. 21.