French Farmers Protest Environmental Rules

French farmers, worried about the potential impact of European Union environmental regulations, held a protest in the streets of Paris this week, blockading the street near the offices of the Agriculture Ministry.

The regulations in question date back to 1991 when EU officials set a series of water quality targets designed to reduce nitrate pollution that can pose a serious threat to aquatic life. The French government has consistently failed to meet these targets and the Hollande government has recently stepped up its efforts to increase regulation and meet EU mandates.

Farmers are worried that these regulations could severely damage their businesses, especially in the middle of an agricultural slump in parts of the EU. According to the head of a Parisian farm union, “What we want is to curb the development of environmental regulation as proposed currently, which is going to lead to the ruin of livestock and grain farmers.” One protestor went farther, stating, “The dialogue has broken down and we are asking Francois Hollande to replace his minister.”

Government officials have stated that they are merely complying with existing EU mandates and that failure to meet these requirements could result in significant financial penalties. France is but the latest in a string of EU agricultural producers who have been grumbling about the increased environmental regulations that have become part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer