European Tractor Protests Move Against EU Green Deal

Czech farmers drove their tractors and other large commercial vehicles on Thursday to several border crossings as activists from neighboring countries gathered to protest European Union agriculture policies, overall bureaucracy, and anti-business conditions.

Farmers participating in the protests say the 27-nation EU’s environmental regulations cut their profits and make their products less competitive with non-EU imports.

Farmers say macro-economic tides are against them, with agricultural goods from Ukraine and Latin America flooding their market and lowering the price for their products, putting them at a disadvantage with foreign competitors because of their higher costs of capital, doing business, and living.

The Czech farmers and their colleagues met at one rendezvous after another near border crossings for Germany, Poland, and Slovakia. Farmers from 10 EU countries streamed along the route to the meet-up points from Central Europe, the Baltics, and the Balkans.

The protestors blocked a Czech-Slovak border crossing named Hodonin-Holic with hundreds of tractors. They invited Czech agriculture minister Marek Vyborny, his Slovak equivalent Richard Takac, and similar representatives from Poland and Hungary to meet and discuss European farm policy.

Andrej Gajdos of the Slovak Chamber of Agriculture and Food said, “We don’t protest against the EU. We protest against the wrong decisions by the European Commission.”

On Wednesday, hundreds of farmers drove their tractors through Madrid, drawing attention to their demands for government policies to address increases in their production costs.

“It is impossible to live from the rural industry, which is what we want, to live from our work. That is all we ask for,” said Silvia Ruiz, 46 — a livestock farmer from the north-central area of Burgos — in comments to The Associated Press.

Desperate and outraged Spanish farmers say the government is not enforcing a law that guarantees fair prices from wholesale supermarket buyers. Meanwhile, consumer prices remain high from post-pandemic global inflation.

“In recent weeks, across Europe, farmers have made themselves heard with a cry of anger, a cry that comes from deep down,” said French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. “Behind this cry is, most of all, a call for action.”

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