The anger of farmers which is spreading in Europe does not spare France, where actions increased on Monday January 22. While several dozen farmers have been blocking the A64 motorway, which links Toulouse to Bayonne, since Thursday, hundreds of farmers began blocking the A62 near Agen on Monday. Farmers are asking the government for emergency measures for their profession, denouncing in particular the low level of their income or the administrative burden.

After a two-hour meeting in Matignon on Monday evening with the Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, and the Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, the president of the FNSEA, Arnaud Rousseau announced that there would be “no lifting of actions” as long as there are “no concrete decisions” from the executive to respond to the anger of farmers. “We will not be satisfied with measures,” warned Mr. Rousseau on the steps of Matignon, while the government announced on Sunday the postponement of the presentation of the bill on agriculture.

“The Prime Minister listened to us very widely so that we could explain to him the situation experienced by farmers for too many months and years (…) The Prime Minister shared this diagnosis that we made of a situation without equivalent” , also assured Arnaud Rousseau, estimating that “almost all departments are preparing actions”.

At the same time, the Minister of Agriculture expressed the wish “to renew trust” with the agricultural world, and this will, according to him, take place “through concrete actions that must be put on the table”. In particular, he promised announcements “within the week”. Among the most urgent subjects are that of “commercial negotiations” on food prices, that of “crises going through a certain number of sectors” and certain subjects in terms of administrative “simplification”, he added .

While access to water is one of the issues raised by farmers, Marc Fesneau said during the day on Monday that he wanted to accelerate the construction of water reserves. While traveling in Vendée, he presented a fund of twenty million euros intended to improve storage and irrigation efficiency. Mr. Fesneau reaffirmed that the government would work to accelerate the construction of such facilities. “The processing times for a certain number of procedures (…) are far too long (…) with some of the petitioners ultimately wanting to discourage farmers,” he criticized.

The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, affirmed that he had not requested “the evacuation by the police” of the farmers responsible for blocking the A64 motorway. Asked about the actions of farmers on the sidelines of a press conference dedicated to the Olympic torch relay, Mr. Darmanin explained his decision by the fact that there was “no damage on this site [that of the ‘A64]’.

For the fifth day in a row, motorists traveling on this axis must leave it before the blockade formed by around forty tractors, to return to the highway a little further on.

In Tarn-et-Garonne, three access roundabouts to the Golfech nuclear power plant, which supplies electricity to the Toulouse basin, have also been blocked by around fifty tractors since Monday.

Hundreds of farmers in tractors also began blocking the A62 motorway near Agen on Monday, in both directions. “The movement will become widespread, it started in Germany, it is in Romania, it is in Holland, it is everywhere, it is generalized fed up, it is the failure of the CAP [Agricultural Policy commune]”, declared Serge Bousquet-Cassagne, the very influential president of the Chamber of Agriculture of Lot-et-Garonne, singled out on Friday by the Court of Auditors for “numerous irregularities”.

“It’s an anger that is going to last a long time, the “yellow vests”, compared to that, were a joke! », added this emblematic member of the Rural Coordination, accustomed to shocking actions and declarations.

After gathering on a roundabout at the entrance to Agen aboard numerous tractors – 200 according to the Rural Coordination at the origin of the call, 130 according to the police – they crossed the Lot prefecture. et-Garonne at reduced speed. Some also blocked two large stores, police sources confirmed to Agence France-Presse.

The government fears a conflagration because, from the Netherlands to Romania via Poland and Germany, farmers are stepping up actions against tax increases and the European Green Deal. All this against a backdrop of inflation and competition from Ukrainian imports.

In December, former Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced to the FNSEA and the JA the abandonment of tax increases on pesticides and irrigation, arousing the irritation of environmental organizations and water stakeholders.

Monday, in Vendée, the Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, announced the launch, already in the pipeline, of a “hydraulic fund” to help farmers invest in water storage, reuse of wastewater or irrigation efficiency. It must be supplemented by 20 million euros “from 2024”, according to his office.

In France, the profession is also scalded by the successive postponements of the agricultural bill, promised more than a year ago by Emmanuel Macron and ultimately less ambitious than the “agricultural orientation law” initially announced. On Sunday, the government announced a new deadline for this text which intends to promote generational renewal in agriculture, a necessity at a time when the population of nearly 500,000 farm managers is aging.

Both the right and the left have asked the executive to renounce increasing taxation on non-road diesel, a progressive measure, negotiated this summer between the Ministry of the Economy and the majority union FNSEA, in exchange for compensation.