Paris Streets Blocked by 1,500 Tractors in Protest by Angry Farmers

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By Reuters

Protesting French farmers brought more than 1,500 tractors to the streets of Paris Thursday to demand government help amid an agricultural crisis that has left some near bankruptcy.

The demonstration, which slowed morning traffic on motorways around the French capital, follows a summer of protests by farmers exasperated by falling prices.

A convoy of tractors in Paris on Thursday.THOMAS SAMSON / AFP - Getty Images

The FNSEA, France's largest farmers' union which called for the protest, says relief measures announced in July are insufficient to help farmers facing the effects of a Russian embargo on Western products as well as long-term problems linked to cheaper foreign competition and the negotiating power of supermarkets.

"We came to express our dismay. We can't live from our job anymore," said Patrice Jaouen, a 43-year-old dairy and vegetable farmer leading a tractor convoy from Brittany after driving 365 miles since Tuesday.

"We don't want short-lived subsidies, we don't want public money, we want an overhaul of the system."

French farmers say they are hampered by higher social charges and stricter environmental protection rules than their EU neighbors.

Tractors converged on Paris' Place de la Nation. Police counted 1,580 tractors, 91 buses and 50 cars carrying farmers. The FNSEA put the figure at 1,733 tractors.

"We need visibility for our future, a decent revenue to support our families," livestock farmer Philippe Nivost, 55, said, alongside the two cows he brought from central France.

French farmers converge on the Place de la Nation square in Paris on Thursday.CHARLES PLATIAU / Reuters