Farmers’ roadblocks were spreading across France on Wednesday, as agricultural workers continued protesting for better wages and less strict regulation of the sector after days of demonstrations across the country.
For months now French farmers have been demonstrating over their working conditions, but protests have escalated in recent weeks at the same time as they spread across Europe, with similar actions being taken by agricultural workers in Romania and Germany.
Protesters in France have set up traffic barricades in recent weeks, dumped foul-smelling agricultural waste outside government offices and turned traffic signs upside down in protest to the country’s agricultural policies.
President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to assuage the farmers’ concerns have so far failed to appease the disgruntled workers, but the French leader still hopes to avoid a massive blow-out like the one led by the Gilet Jaunes (or “Yellow Vests”) protesters in 2019.
While the president is trying to avoid the spread of violence in the streets of the country, on Tuesday a 36-year-old farmer died after a car rammed through a barrier set up by protesting farmers in the town of Pamiers, in southwestern France. Her 12-year-old daughter died later in hospital, according to a local prosecutor, while her husband was injured but survived the incident.
Far-right parties in France and Germany are trying to exploit the discontent of rural workers in both countries, with the president of the French anti-immigrant National Rally party saying last weekend that farmers were fighting for our own existence.
“This is the France of the forgotten,” Jordan Bardella said during a visit to the Bordeaux region on Saturday. “The fight for agriculture is also the fight against rural effacement, the cry of French people who do not want to die.”
In Germany, the farmers’ dissatisfaction with the federal government is considered to be linked to the growing popularity of the far-right party AfD, Alternative for Germany.