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Agricultural crisis: pressure drops after new announcements from Gabriel Attal

Will the Prime Minister's third communication on the agricultural crisis be the right one? “I don’t believe for a second that a single farmer doesn’t take pleasure in blockages,” said Gabriel Attal on Thursday, after an urgently called press conference in Matignon.

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Agricultural crisis: pressure drops after new announcements from Gabriel Attal

Will the Prime Minister's third communication on the agricultural crisis be the right one? “I don’t believe for a second that a single farmer doesn’t take pleasure in blockages,” said Gabriel Attal on Thursday, after an urgently called press conference in Matignon. The tractors of angry peasants from all over the country then surrounded the capital, some even imagining entering Paris and positioning themselves in front of the National Assembly. While in Brussels, where a European Council is being held, the continent's leaders could see the contagious revolt brewing not far from the Berlaymont.

It is in this context of growing tension (more than 90 farmers were placed in police custody while trying to enter the Rungis international market) that the Prime Minister presented “strong and clear measures” to “produce and protect” but above all respond to a “discomfort that comes from afar”. Starting with an envelope of 150 million euros in “permanent” aid for breeding aimed at providing “fiscal and social support” to breeders. The modalities must still be discussed with the sectors concerned.

Also read: The farmers' crisis precipitated the European election campaign

While Gabriel Attal had already announced the cancellation of the increase in the tax on non-road diesel (GNR) during a trip last Friday to Occitanie, he confirmed that his decision would be retroactive. Farmers will be able to request partial reimbursement of the tax and payments will be made within two weeks. From July, the rebate they benefit from on GNR will be effective upon purchase and no longer upon presentation of supporting documents a posteriori.

Another significant tax measure, Bruno Le Maire, who participated in the press conference with his colleagues Marc Fesneau (Agriculture) and Christophe Béchu (Ecology) announced “the raising of all exemption thresholds on transmissions” from farms. “Ensuring the renewal of generations is the surest way to maintain our agriculture over the long term, and therefore our French identity,” insisted the Prime Minister, who, since the start of the crisis, has linked agriculture and identity. Thus, he recalled his intention to enshrine in the law that agriculture presents a “fundamental interest for the nation”.

Gabriel Attal promised to double controls on agri-food manufacturers to ensure the application of the EGalim laws passed during the previous five-year term, intended to protect farmers during trade negotiations. “We will be intractable” with “companies that do not respect EGalim,” affirmed the head of government. Who promises farmers to protect them from “the law of the jungle and unfair competition”.

“The work will continue,” said Gabriel Attal, while the debate on the calculation of agricultural pensions over the best 25 years is expected after the publication of the report by MP LR Julien Dive. For his part, Christophe Béchu will present a water plan soon, at a time when resource management is at the heart of significant tensions in many regions. “We are going to rework the Ecophyto plan, therefore putting it on hold, the time to rework a certain number of aspects, to simplify it,” indicated Marc Fesneau, faced with the discontent of the growers. who are surprised to have to respect strict standards which are not imposed on their European competitors. The head of government announced a “mirror clause” by prohibiting the importation into France of fruits and vegetables treated with thiacloprid, banned by the EU.

The government, which is increasing its benevolent nods to the agricultural world while castigating environmentalists, has said it wants to crack down on the promotion of synthetic meat. And accelerate the examination in the Senate of the bill from MP Nicole Le Peih (Renaissance) aimed at protecting operators from complaints for neighborhood disturbances. “When we choose the campaign, we accept it and we assume it,” insisted Gabriel Attal, elected official from Hauts-de-Seine.

Before the opening of the Agricultural Show in just over three weeks, the Prime Minister “deeply believes” that these measures “are likely to meet a large part of the expectations” even if “it takes time to convince". In the wake of the Prime Minister's announcements, the majority unions FNSEA and Jeunes Agriculteurs called for suspending the blockades of farmers. But organizations remain on their guard. “We will see if these announcements are fake,” warned the boss of the FNSEA, Arnaud Rousseau. “No one should consider that it is over tonight,” said the powerful representative, who is faced with a very determined base and the mobilization of unions more radical than his own. The Rural Coordination, which the executive presents as guided by the National Rally, called for the blockades to continue.

In total, 400 million euros were released by the executive to respond to the crisis. “It’s an investment,” argued Gabriel Attal, the former Minister of Public Accounts. Adding: “A breeder who stops means life leaving a village, it means less economic activity. It must also be measured.”For the Prime Minister, who seeks to personally convince “France of the effort which does not count its hours”, the management of this first crisis has important political stakes.

“A lot of things need to change at European level (…). Europe must be a factor of protection and sovereignty and not the other way around,” he warned, ensuring “to put an end to all naivety, all laissez-faire and the arrival of rules and standards which we we don't want any more", at the time when the Head of State met his counterparts in Brussels less than five months before the European elections. Emmanuel Macron asked the Commission for “simplifications” before the end of the month. And control of Ukrainian grain imports. For the executive, it is a first round of the June election which is now being played out.

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