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Gabriel Attal's speech hit by the agricultural crisis

Looping news channels, crisis meetings at the top of the state in front of oppositions that don't miss a beat, and the minute-by-minute account of the advance of the tractors towards the capital.

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Gabriel Attal's speech hit by the agricultural crisis

Looping news channels, crisis meetings at the top of the state in front of oppositions that don't miss a beat, and the minute-by-minute account of the advance of the tractors towards the capital... "The Parisians will be hungry,” promises Benoît Durand, a cereal grower and breeder, a bit excessive. At the start of the week, all the ingredients giving substance to a deep-rooted crisis have come together. Even the popular emblems, the entrance signs of the communes upside down like the crescent, “a good symbol” made of “French flour” brandished Monday on the Jossigny dam (Seine-et-Marne) by Karine Le Marchand, the presenter from “Love is in the meadow” and 18th favorite personality of the French. “You don’t have to give up until you have concrete things,” she suggests to the group that is forming around her. “There are more journalists than farmers,” observes the media figure.

We almost forget that Gabriel Attal, although never left out in attracting the spotlight, must make his general policy declaration before Parliament this Tuesday. An unmissable and solemn moment for all new tenants of Matignon. At 34, the Prime Minister expected a lot from this meeting. At the head of a “half-government” (says a former minister whose renewal is suspended following the reshuffle that everyone has already forgotten), Gabriel Attal sees attention to his speech reduced to a cyclical statement . So much so that executive officials have raised the relevance of maintaining it. “The Prime Minister will have to change his mind and will be forced to talk about agriculture,” comments MP Julien Dive, specialist in rural issues at LR. Marc Fesneau, who is reaching out to all the country's branches, promises "a certain number of new measures" presented by Gabriel Attal to the national representation.

The first elements brought Friday evening by the head of government from a busy section of highway in Occitania have already had their day. “He wanted to make a move and had a great evening” with independent farmers satisfied with a few measures and a proactive speech like Gabriel Attal knows how to make. But the response from the FNSEA, the main organization mobilized, with the Young Farmers, was not long in coming. And it was a hangover for the entire government when agricultural leader Arnaud Rousseau announced the next day the general mobilization of his troops. “The unions also need their victory so that the river returns to its bed. An agricultural crisis is dealt with sector by sector,” notes a mobilized actor before a new meeting with the corporation was held in Matignon on Monday afternoon.

Before that, the Minister of Agriculture took place Monday afternoon at the Élysée for a political meeting around the Head of State, the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior. Emmanuel Macron, whose international agenda has kept him away from the crisis, wants to ensure that the country will be held as he leaves the same evening for Sweden for a state visit. Gérald Darmanin, who stood out at the start of the crisis for his leniency towards this popular fringe of the country, his electoral breeding ground, is forced to toughen his tone. “The crisis is deep but the mess will not necessarily last very long,” hopes a government source. Animals cannot be neglected for too long and the maintenance of the fields cannot wait, we whisper...

“By analogy, the crisis began as with the “yellow vests” over fuel, but old and buried demands are resurfacing. The guys are not going to be satisfied with the cancellation of the tax on non-road diesel,” warns Julien Dive. “The social environment is not good, with unemployment rising and the housing crisis growing. The pre-electoral climate, five months before the European elections, does not help,” one worry in a ministry. Not to mention this story of a crisis “people against elite, province against Paris” which takes hold. So many elements that remind the executive of bad memories. “It’s yellow vest!” exclaims an executive advisor. “It’s still a crisis of people who work but who are not getting by,” says Thierry Coste, the lobbyist for rural issues who advises the government “to dare to adopt a series of measures perceived by environmentalists as the refusal to 'an environmentalist policy', on hedges, wolves and pesticides, even if it means 'taking responsibility for being condemned' by the European Union.

While the Renaissance mayor of Nevers, Denis Thuriot, rails against “the boho-ecological invasion in the administrative services of the country which annoys elected officials and does not advise pragmatically” the State. “We must fight the battle against the administration. People no longer believe the announcements because they do not perceive the real application of the measures,” insists Thierry Coste. Moreover, François Cormier-Bouligeon “can no longer support voting for laws in the Assembly which are not applied”, he said when mentioning EGalim, which was supposed to guarantee operators a decent selling price. Not to mention the Ukrainian chicken, which replaces the famous Polish plumber, almost twenty years after the European referendum. “I am for supporting Ukraine, but not to the detriment of the French poultry industry,” proclaims the Renaissance deputy from Cher, who echoes a criticism heard about the dams. As in 2018, the demands are multiplying as quickly as the avenues to respond to them.

Also read “We are not the dog!”: on the A10 in Yvelines, angry but disciplined farmers

On November 24, when the first signs were torn down to mark the growing discontent, the President of the Republic was worried about the turn of events. On the plane which brought him back from a trip to the Jura, he had raised awareness among the ministers who accompanied him. Marc Fesneau (Agriculture), his Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu and… his future Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal. Here are these four on the front line two months later to put out the fire. All the while scrutinizing the gathering of anger in a country where the National Rally is largely at the top of the European vote. In Toulouse, it is the taxis that block the airport. In the Paris region, VTCs are increasing the pressure when they have learned that they will be kept away from the Olympic Games facilities.

When he went to meet the farmers of Nièvre, Denis Thuriot was booed and has since been worried about “politicization by far-right elements”. “The RN elected officials are making jokes in the farmhouses but they will have forgotten the farmers on June 10,” mocks François Cormier-Bouligeon. “Farmers are waiting for Emmanuel Macron to speak in order to have more commitments. There is always a risk of political recovery. We must prevent this from lasting,” says Denis Thuriot, one of the few local elected officials from the presidential party, impatiently.

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