Macron Faces Challenges And Clashes At France’s Big Agriculture Fair

Macron mentioned the creation of an "emergency cash flow plan" to support struggling farmers, which would be implemented as early as the following week. He also scheduled a meeting on this matter at the Elysée in three weeks' time.

Macron Faces Challenges And Clashes At France's Big Agriculture Fair - SurgeZirc FR
Macron Faces Challenges And Clashes At France's Big Agriculture Fair.

French President Emmanuel Macron faced a tumultuous 13-hour visit to the Salon de l’Agriculture, France’s largest agriculture fair, on Saturday evening, February 24. The visit was marred by heckling and clashes, as the government attempted to address the farmers’ grievances ahead of their major annual event.

Before the official opening, hundreds of people, led by farmers from the main unions, forcefully entered the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris. This led to clashes with the police, creating a chaotic start to the event.

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Meanwhile, Macron was meeting with agricultural union leaders on the second floor. During a press briefing, Macron called for calm and then engaged in an impromptu debate with representatives from the agricultural sector.

The exchanges were at times tense, with Macron being questioned about various issues, including the consequences of the war in Ukraine, administrative simplification, green measures perceived as punitive, and farmers’ remuneration.

Macron emphasized that it was incorrect to portray the agricultural sector as falling apart, urging against a catastrophist view.

He announced that the agricultural orientation bill, which had faced multiple delays, would be presented to the Council of Ministers on March 20. He also expressed his intention to establish a base price “sector by sector,” ensuring a minimum price that processors and distributors cannot go below.

In addition, Macron mentioned the creation of an “emergency cash flow plan” to support struggling farmers, which would be implemented as early as the following week. He also scheduled a meeting on this matter at the Elysée in three weeks’ time.

However, the dominant image from the fair’s opening was that of police officers and gendarmes in helmets and shields, attempting to contain angry farmers who directed their frustration towards the head of state.

Insults such as “manure” and “liar” were hurled, accompanied by jeers and calls for Macron’s resignation.

Laurent Nuñez, the Paris police prefect, estimated that there were between 300 to 400 demonstrators in the morning. Six arrests were made, and eight members of the security forces were injured.

Arnaud Rousseau, president of the largest union, the FNSEA, expressed satisfaction with the progress made during the day. He mentioned the possibility of a cash flow plan for struggling farmers and the recognition of agriculture as being of major general interest in the law.

Rousseau believed that this moment of anger was necessary to bring about positive changes. Calm was eventually restored in the afternoon, with Macron continuing his visit under heightened security.

The contrast between the sparsely populated aisles around him and the crowded pavilions was stark. The chaos caused delays in opening the fair to visitors and made access to the popular Animal Show hall more challenging, as it was the site of the earlier clashes and booing.

Nevertheless, the first day of the 60th Salon de l’Agriculture was bustling, with many visitors navigating the open aisles.

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