Home World Like India, Why Are Farmers Protesting In Europe? A Breakdown Of Main Issues | World News

Like India, Why Are Farmers Protesting In Europe? A Breakdown Of Main Issues | World News

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Like India, Why Are Farmers Protesting In Europe? A Breakdown Of Main Issues | World News

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New Delhi: Thousands of Indian farmers are camping at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points between Punjab and Haryana as part of the “Delhi Chalo” protest march. Not just India but farmers accross European union nations are protesting too. For months, Europe has witnessed waves of protests by farmers who are unhappy with their situation. They have taken to the streets, blocked roads and even surrounded the capital of France with tractors. While the farmers in India are demanding a legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their crops.

Implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension, no hike in the electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence in Uttar Pradesh, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during the agitation against the three farm laws in 2020-21 are the other demands of farmers in India.

Here are some of the main factors behind the European farmers’ discontent:

Squeeze Of Low Prices, High Costs

One of the biggest challenges facing farmers is the gap between what they spend and what they earn. Many of their costs, such as energy, fertiliser and transport, have gone up, especially after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. Meanwhile, their prices have gone down, as governments and retailers try to keep food affordable for consumers.

According to Eurostat, the average farm-gate price – the price farmers get for their products – fell by almost 9% between the third quarter of 2022 and the same period in 2021. Only a few products, such as olive oil, which faced shortages, saw an increase.

Threat Of Cheap imports

Another source of frustration for farmers is the competition from foreign imports, which they see as unfair and harmful. In some parts of Europe, such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, farmers have protested against the influx of cheap produce from Ukraine, which benefited from EU trade concessions after Russia’s invasion. The EU imposed some limits on Ukrainian exports, but they were not enough to satisfy the farmers.

In other parts of Europe, such as France, farmers are worried about the impact of trade deals with other regions, such as Mercosur, the South American bloc. They fear that these deals will expose them to products that do not meet the same standards as EU products, such as sugar, grain and meat.

Climate Change Challenge

Farmers are also feeling the effects of climate change, which is making their work more difficult and unpredictable. Extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and wildfires, have damaged crops and livestock in many countries. For example, in Spain, some water reservoirs are only 4% full, while in Greece, fires destroyed about 20% of the annual farm income in 2023.

Farmers in southern Europe have not protested much so far, but that could change if their governments impose water restrictions or other measures to cope with the crisis.

Pressure Of EU Regulations

Farmers also complain that they are over-regulated by the EU, which imposes rules and standards that they find burdensome and unrealistic. They feel that they are caught between the conflicting demands of providing cheap food and protecting the environment.

The EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP), which provides €55bn a year in subsidies to farmers, has traditionally favoured large-scale and intensive farming. This has led to consolidation and concentration in the sector, with the number of farms dropping by more than a third since 2005. Many small and medium-sized farms struggle to survive in a low-profit market, while many large farms are heavily indebted.

The EU has recently adopted a new strategy, called “farm to fork”, which is part of its ambitious green deal to make the bloc carbon-neutral by 2050. The strategy aims to make farming more sustainable and healthy, by setting targets such as reducing pesticides by 50%, fertilisers by 20%, and increasing organic farming to 25% of the land by 2030.

However, many farmers are sceptical and worried about the impact of these targets on their productivity and competitiveness. They argue that they need more support and incentives to make the transition, and that they should not be penalised for their contribution to food security and rural development.

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