French farmers protest thousands of tractors in Paris

Dissatisfied with government policies threatening livelihoods, nearly a thousand angry French farmers drove tractors into central Paris to block roads in protest against President Macron’s agricultural policies.

According to Agence France-Presse reported on the 27th, the protest was initiated by two major peasant unions. The peasant demonstrators mainly came from the agricultural areas near Paris, such as the Normandy Region, the Central Region, the Eastern Region, and the Loire Region. They drove up to a thousand tractors into Paris from the north and south, blocking the roads and inner ring roads. From time to time, demonstrators honked their horns, waved union flags, and drove all the way to the Champs-Élysées lined with fashion boutiques in central Paris, dumping hay and occupying the street leading to Concorde. Many tractors have the slogan “Macron, answer us! Save the farmers”.

It is reported that the farmers’ union asked to meet with Macron to express their dissatisfaction with agricultural policies. They say that these policies are hurting agriculture and threatening their livelihoods, and one of them is the phase-out of the common herbicide glyphosate by 2021. A farmer named Lambert said that glyphosate has saved farmers a lot of time, and now it is the 21st century, he can’t weed out little by little in 170 acres of land. “To change our production methods is to deprive us of some of our production tools.” French farmers also complained of the “assault on agriculture” argument that is widespread in the media and politics. In these areas, agriculture has become a scapegoat for environmental issues.

France is a large traditional agricultural production country. However, in recent years, due to the uneven distribution of market benefits and poor weather conditions, the situation of farmers has continued to deteriorate, and dissatisfaction has increased significantly. According to the French “Le Figaro”, 20% of farmers in France currently operate at a loss and 50% of their monthly income is less than 350 euros. At the same time, average farm debt rose from 50,000 euros in 1980 to 164,000 euros today. In addition, the EU’s common agricultural policy has not brought French farmers out of crisis. The peasant demonstration was also particularly about putting pressure on the Macron government to influence EU policies: French farmers believe that the EU’s promotion of free trade policies will greatly harm the interests of EU farmers. In addition, farmers also oppose the unfair competition behavior of major supermarket groups, and require the government to further regulate these supermarket groups and punish various practices of sharply reducing prices and selling agricultural products at low prices.

It is reported that union representatives participating in the march were invited to meet with Prime Minister Philip next month after meeting with the Minister of Agriculture. In addition to France, farmers in Germany, Ireland and other countries also drove tractors into the capital this week to protest against government agricultural policies that harm farmers’ interests.

German Bundestag officially proposed that the German Bundestag would not hold late-night meetings in the future to protect the time and physical and mental health of parliamentarians.

The Patriarchate is composed of federal parliamentarians from various parties to assist the Speaker. The direct reason for the proposal of the Patriarchate was that two members of parliament fainted in the parliament hall recently because they could not stay up late: On the morning of November 7th, the CDU MP Howell broke down due to extreme discomfort; that evening And another left-wing party member Barryntos fainted during the voting process.

Two fainting incidents on the same day caused parliamentary debate on working hours. Leftist MP Berger criticized the Bundestag’s working conditions as “inhuman”, including long plenary meetings and frequent meetings. For example, she said that some members of Parliament had terminated their political careers because of too much work pressure and physical and mental difficulties. Some members pointed out that this is not only for the health of the members, but also to reduce the workload of many staff members of the Bundestag, including stenographers, conference attendants and security guards.

The German Bundestag meets all night until early in the morning. Just three weeks ago, parliamentarians debated the African Development Agenda until more than two in the morning. Although German labor law clearly stipulates the working hours of employees. The basic principle is that no more than 8 hours per day, and up to 5 days per week. However, members of Parliament are an exception. Many times they work six or seven days a week and work more than 10 hours a day.

Against this background, several party lawmakers proposed that the practice of night meetings be abolished and proposals be submitted through the patriarchal councils. According to the proposal, in the future, the Bundestag will arrange the meeting agenda within a week more reasonably, and the meeting will generally not be arranged in the evening. Under special circumstances, a meeting in the evening should not exceed 12 o’clock in the night. To ensure no delay during the day, the proposal requires parliamentary debate time to be reduced from the previous 38 minutes to 30 minutes.

At present, with the exception of the far-right party, the German Select Party, parliamentarians from other parties agree. German Selection Party lawmaker Brommel said the proposal again showed that the ruling party was not interested in a good culture of debate. Reducing debate is not in line with German democratic culture. Other parties countered that the reduction in debate time represented an improvement in the quality of the debate. Since the ruling party, the parliamentary group in favor of the proposal, has a majority of parliamentarians, there will be no problem in passing the proposal.