Jeremy Clarkson shares support after becoming unlikely idol for protesting French farmers

Jeremy Clarkson has emerged an unlikely hero for protesting French farmers as one tractor driver praised the controversial TV presenter and his show Clarkson’s Farm.

Farmers have for days been protesting across France to put pressure on the government to respond to their demands for better remuneration for their produce, less red tape and protection against cheap imports.

In an interview with The Telegraph, 30-year-old Robin Leduc, who has a 200-hectare farm in Canly, praised Clarkson’s Amazon Prime Video series about his mission to turn his farm in the Cotswolds into a profitable enterprise.

“We need one of our French celebrities to do the same as Jeremy Clarkson. It’s everything he explained, that’s why and how we are here today,” he told the newspaper on Tuesday (30 January).

On Twitter, Clarkson responded with a message of support for French farmers, writing in their language: “Agriculteurs français. Je parie que personne n’a jamais dit cela auparavant, mais bonne chance, venant d’Angleterre [French farmers. I bet no one has ever said this before, but good luck, coming from England].”

Clarkson, the controversial former host of Top Gear, has used his platform to higlight the plight of farmers in the UK and even renamed his 1,000-hectare farm “Diddly Squat” as a reference to its lack of profitability.

During an appearance on The News Agents podcast in 2022, Clarkson said food prices should be “double what they are” because of the “soul-destroying” work that goes into food farming.

He explained: “People simply don’t pay enough for their food. The one thing a government will never say, ‘Oh you’ve got to pay more for food, you don’t pay enough’.

“[Prices] should be double what they are. It’s soul-destroying, the amount of work. I mean, I was out last week in honestly sideways rain, really heavy, hard rain, trying to get a pig’s penis into the back of another pig while Lisa, my girlfriend, was trying to give another sow the impression she was being mated by rubbing her back,” he continued.

Farmers in France, the EU’s biggest agricultural producer, say they are not being paid enough, are choked by excessive regulation on environmental protection and face unfair competition from cheap imports.

Some of their concerns, like competition from imports and rigorous environmental rules, are shared by producers elsewhere in the EU, while others such as food price negotiations are more specific to France.

In a spillover from French protests, Belgian farmers blocked Zeebrugge port on Tuesday. Spanish farmers‘ associations said they were planning to take to the streets in February, calling for a halt to Mercosur negotiations, among other demands.

Additional reporting from wire agencies