Farmers Rebel Against Climate Initiatives

Protests by farmers in Europe are continuing and seemingly escalating with each passing day.

On Tuesday, farmers sprayed manure and threw beets at police officers, while tractors sealed off some streets near the headquarters of the European Union, all as agriculture ministers are trying to ease the crisis that has resulted in protests lasting for months in many of the 27-member states.

The protests continue on as farmers believe the European Union has unfair trading practices and too much red tape that is negatively affecting their business. In addition, they believe the additional environmental measures that are being put in place, plus cheap imports coming from Ukraine, are doing them no favors.

One billboard that a tractor displayed read:

“Let us make a living from our profession.”

That tractor was stationed on a main thoroughfare near the EU headquarters, while there was manure, eggs, potatoes and hay littering the streets.

At one point, the protests turned violent, leading police to use water cannons and tear gas to keep everyone at bay.

This was all going on as the ministers were trying to pass new measures that would appease the farmers and ease the tensions. Authorities told commuters that it would be best for them to avoid Brussels and work from home if they could.

Protests are going on not just in Brussels but also in Ireland, Poland, Greece, Finland and other EU countries. Some national authorities, and even the EU as a whole, made some concessions to the farmers in regard to loosening control over farms to weakening rules as they relate to pesticides and the environment as a whole.

On Monday, though, a new proposal that would’ve protected the environment throughout the EU while also fighting climate change was postponed indefinitely. That just goes to show how much of a significant influence the protests are having on European politics.

Yolin Targe, a farmer from Belgium, commented recently:

“In order to have a strong Europe, there is a need for a strong agriculture. So, we are here to remind them that their farmers should be a priority. We have to deal with a lot of administrative tasks. We have to deal with a lot of environmental restrictions. We are in favor of doing our best for the environment, but, still, agriculture should be a priority.”

On Tuesday, members states of the EU gave a provisional blessing to a group of proposals that would weaken or cut rules to things such as soil cover protection, tillage methods and crop rotation.

Those proposals should be up for discussion by the EU parliament later next month.

Climate activists and environmentalists have said that the fact that the EU is caving to the pressure of the farmers is regrettable. These short-term concessions that the EU is making, they say, will eventually come back to haunt them all when climate change is set to hit Europe even harder than it already is.