Farmers show anger with protests in Ireland, Germany and France

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages/Harry Wedzinga
©GettyImages/Harry Wedzinga

Related tags glyphosate pesticide farmer income

Livestock and arable farmer are protesting in Germany, France and in Ireland over low farm incomes, the undermining of rural economies and also growing criticism of agricultural practices.

German farmers, who blocked Berlin yesterday, are protesting about newly proposed regulations.

A German government package, first presented in early September, stipulates that glyphosate will be banned in Germany by the end of 2023 after a phasing-out period. The government also wants to reduce the nitrate content in ground water by cutting the use of certain fertilizers and liquid manure.

More than 5,000 tractors as well as 10,000 farmers, made their way from across Germany to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate yesterday for a rally.

Speaking to German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, in October, Martin Buchholz, a farmer who grows barley, oats, wheat and rapeseed, mainly for animal feed, on 160 hectares, said he was skeptical about whether farming has a future in Germany.

He said it is becoming harder and harder to keep the business going. "We are slowly losing interest because we have to [meet] more and more requirements,” ​he told that media outlet.

Farmer anger has been increasingly visible for several months now in Europe. Besides the Berlin demo yesterday, recent weeks have seen German cities hit with similar protests, with a large demo in Bonn last month, while farmers have also been taking to the streets in the Netherlands.

The blockage in Ireland, which began yesterday and continues today, saw tractors descending on Dublin city center; the protest has been organized by the so-called Individual Farmers of Ireland but is not backed by any of the major recognized farming groups.

They are calling for fair prices to be paid to farmers producing milk, meat and grain.

Ireland’s agriculture minister, Michael Creed, said the government has acknowledged the difficulties in the sector, releasing €120m in additional funding in 2019, as well as other farming supports, reported RTE.

He said the government was anxious to see the establishment of the task force that had been agreed as part of the negotiations to end the farmer protests outside meat companies earlier in the year.

French farmers are driving their tractors to the French capital, Paris, today to call on President Macron to tackle the stigmatization of farming practices, including the use of pesticides, and what they see as increasing agrobashing in society, with farmers being blamed for climate ills.

Some farmers were critical of Macron bringing in a ban on the controversial pesticide, glyphosate, by 2021, which goes beyond current EU policy, even though the government has promised exemptions for farms that have no viable alternative, according to Reuters.

Macron has also been under pressure from farmers over EU trade deals with Canada and the Mercosur bloc of South American countries, which French farming groups say will result in imports of cheaper agricultural goods produced to lower standards, while creating an unlevel playing field.

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