Home Society Europe’s farmer protests are spreading. Here’s where and why
Europe’s farmer protests are spreading. Here’s where and why

Europe’s farmer protests are spreading. Here’s where and why

by host

The farmer protests sweeping the European Union may have taken political leaders by surprise. But the tinder was dry and all it took was a spark for unrest to spread like wildfire.

Farmers are being burdened by debt, squeezed by powerful retailers and agrochemical companies, battered by extreme weather, and undercut by cheap foreign imports, for years now — all while relying on a subsidy system that favors the big players.

The war in Ukraine has only made matters worse. A spike in prices for crops like wheat proved to be short-lived. And Russia’s aggression has upended trade flows, causing a supply glut.

Polish farmers were the first to take to the streets and block border crossings, as far back as spring last year. But demonstrations have spread to countries like Germany and France — as this POLITICO infographic shows.

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Farmers’ top concerns vary from country to country, from German protests against government cuts in diesel subsidies to French protests against free-trade deals and environmental rules that they say are cutting into their bottom line.

But there are common grievances — not least hikes in energy and input prices, combined with a collapse in the actual prices farmers receive for many of their products.

POLITICO’s analysis shows how farmers’ profit margins have been roiled by a boom and bust not only in the prices their produce fetches — but also in production costs.

In 11 EU countries, prices at the farm gate fell by more than 10 percent from 2022 to 2023. Only Greece and Cyprus saw a corresponding increase in their farmers’ sales revenues, helped by a surge in demand for olive oil.

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Alessandro Ford contributed reporting.

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