Main Farming Groups Shun Brussels Protest Against EU Green Policies

By Reuters
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Main Farming Groups Shun Brussels Protest Against EU Green Policies

Farmers drove hundreds of tractors into Brussels to protest against the European Union's environmental policies, but the action was shunned by mainstream farming groups who said it did not reflect their members' concerns.

A few days before the European Parliament election on June 6-9, farmers from the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Germany travelled to Brussels to protest against EU green policies that organisers said undermine the competitiveness of European farmers.

"We came from Poland, because we know that the source of our problem is in Brussels. Because we want to change, deeply change, the Green Deal," crop farmer Damian Murawiec told Reuters at the protest in Laeken, in northern Brussels.

Farmers' Protests

It is the latest in a months-long wave of farmers' protests across Europe, where agricultural workers have denounced low food prices, excessive regulation and free-trade deals they say leave them struggling to compete with cheap imports.

The protest was organised by Dutch lobby group Farmers Defence Force and supported by right-wing and far-right groups. With police counting around 500 tractors, it was smaller than previous farmers' protests held in Brussels this year.


"We want Europe to put the Green Deal away because it's not realistic," said Bart Dickens, president of Farmers Defence Force's Belgian branch.

Farmers Defence Force – whose secretary Sieta van Keimpema has described concerns over climate change as 'hysterical' – said politicians from Belgian far-right party Vlaams Belang and the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists group would address the protest in the afternoon.

Europe's biggest farming lobby Copa Cogeca, and farming association La Via Campesina, each told Reuters their members would not participate.

"We reject this attempt by small groups that have no concrete proposals to address farmers' issues to hijack farmer concerns to push their own party interests," a spokesperson for Via Campesina said.

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