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Aid, taxation… The executive is preparing its plan to calm the anger of farmers

A meeting to try to get out of the crisis as quickly as possible.

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Aid, taxation… The executive is preparing its plan to calm the anger of farmers

A meeting to try to get out of the crisis as quickly as possible. Thursday morning, Gabriel Attal must work on measures for farmers, with his ministers Marc Fesneau (Agriculture), Bruno Le Maire (Economy) and Christophe Béchu (Ecological Transition). Under pressure from unions demanding “concrete” answers, which he received between Monday and Wednesday in Matignon, the Prime Minister hopes to slow down the movement that left Occitanie last week.

The anger spreading across the country worries him. Images of blocked motorways and roundabouts are making the rounds of ministries. Just like the scenes of slurry and tire fires, lit on Wednesday in front of the Agen prefecture (Lot-et-Garonne). Rarely, Marc Fesneau brought together all the departments of the Ministry of Agriculture in the afternoon to find solutions.

The executive power, assures the government spokesperson, Prisca Thevenot, has “heard the call” of the farmers. That is to say the expressions of "fed up", "rage" and "discomfort" relayed by breeders, cereal growers and market gardeners, protesting against European standards, financial burdens and low income. “Disparate” demands, admits a government advisor.

On Wednesday evening, the FNSEA and the Young Farmers (JA) issued a list of 24 demands, which according to the first agricultural union would represent an envelope of “several hundred million euros”. Among them, “immediate payment of all aid from the European common agricultural policy” or “absolute respect for Egalim laws”. The two unions demand that the government take into account “the entirety” of their demands, explaining that they were not “à la carte”.

Directly challenged by demonstrators - "Attal agriculture is going badly", announced a banner in Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin) on Wednesday - the Prime Minister plans to make the first announcements during a trip, perhaps on Friday. Without waiting for his general policy speech on Tuesday at the National Assembly.

“Several options are on the table,” acknowledges those around him, keen to take measures “rapidly”. His Minister of Agriculture set a general objective for his teams: “Whatever we can do right away, we do right away.” He made his first concession last weekend, by deciding to postpone his bill supposed to facilitate the installation of new farmers.

In particular to add “simplification” measures – including shortening administrative deadlines and stopping the “overtransposition” of European regulations when they risk endangering French competitiveness. In this regard, he said he was ready to “question” certain provisions of the European “green pact”, accused by the right, the National Rally (RN) and agricultural unions of restricting farmers.

Among the subjects of anger, taxes on non-road diesel (GNR) could be reviewed. Their gradual increase - year by year, until 2030 - was negotiated last September, between the Bercy teams and the agricultural unions, before being adopted in the 2024 budget.

This year, farmers saw their tax benefit reduced by 2.8 cents per liter of fuel. At Bercy, we emphasize that even with this increase, GNR currently remains cheaper than for many months of 2023. Ultimately, the tax level must also remain lower than that paid by the general public. In September, the Minister of the Economy announced that “all of these tax revenues will be returned to farmers”.

According to those around him, Bruno Le Maire is open to negotiation on two points: “better direct” this redistribution towards “small farms” and set up cash advances. “It is sometimes better to pay 50 million euros right away than 500 million in three weeks,” Gabriel Attal told Renaissance deputies on Tuesday. But the amounts mentioned are insufficient, judge several of them. Another concession envisaged is the acceleration of compensation for breeders who have seen their animals affected by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EMD).

A sign that the agricultural revolt is being taken seriously all the way to the Élysée, the subject was raised Tuesday evening by Emmanuel Macron, who received his allies Édouard Philippe and François Bayrou, with Gabriel Attal. “The classic temptation is to respond only with measures,” warns the centrist from the Democratic Movement (MoDem). But farmers feel misunderstood, persecuted by constraints in their way of life. They no longer feel considered legitimate experts and protectors of living things, both plants and animals.” A warning, as the revolt risks parasitizing the campaign of the presidential camp, five months before the European elections.

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