French farmers are staging a massive protest in the capital, Paris, to demand better working conditions, fair prices for their produce, and protection from cheap imports. They have driven more than 1,000 tractors from different regions of the country, blocking major roads and causing traffic chaos.
The farmers say they are facing a crisis due to the rising costs of production, the increasing environmental regulations, and the competition from foreign markets. They accuse the government of neglecting the rural areas and favoring the urban consumers.
The protest is organized by the Rural Coordination union, which represents mainly small-scale and independent farmers. They have threatened to “besiege” Paris and disrupt the food supply to the supermarkets. They have also dumped manure and rotten vegetables at the entrances of government offices and supermarkets in several cities.
The government has deployed 15,000 police officers to prevent the tractors from entering Paris and to ensure public order. The Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, has called for dialogue and urged the farmers to respect the law and the health measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protest comes amid growing discontent among various sectors of the French society, including health workers, teachers, and students, who have also taken to the streets in recent weeks to voice their grievances. The farmers say they will not stop until they get a satisfactory response from the government.