Farmers’ protest over cheap imports, low wages, and environmental regulations resulted in dozens of arrests in Paris

The Champs-Elysees in central Paris were the scene of a farmers’ protest that stopped traffic during morning rush hour, and French police announced on March 1 that they had detained 66 persons. Farmers temporarily stopped traffic on the well-known route outside the Arc de Triomphe monument, just a short distance from President Emmanuel Macron’s office, the Elysee, by using tractors and bundles of hay. The demonstrators claimed that their goal was to “save French agriculture” as they carried banners down the boulevard. For weeks, farmers all around Europe have been staging protests over what they see as unnecessarily onerous environmental regulations, low incomes, and competition from low-cost imports from outside the EU.

 

Approximately one hundred of his colleagues, according to farmer Axel Masson, had assembled at the arterial junction at 3 a.m. “in a peaceful and law-abiding manner”. According to AFP reporters on the scene, several of the protestors gave sacks of potatoes to drivers who were caught in slow moving traffic near the Arc de Triomphe. Prior to the arrests, a few were observed conversing with police officers. The farmers’ group had earlier claimed in a statement on social media platform X that the Rural Coordination “takes over the Arc de Triomphe symbolically and peacefully,” adding that it was a cry to “save” agriculture in France.

 

“Quick action is needed to save 45% of our farms, which are in financial distress,” the statement stated. The farmers, according to Mr. Masson, lay a wreath in remembrance of their colleagues who committed suicide as a result of financial difficulties, saying, “The state has never heard us.” Even after the government pledged improvements, French farmers have persisted in blocking roads, setting fire to tires, and besieging supermarkets, claiming they require further action.

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