Farmers protest in Berlin and Paris

Thousands of tractors lined up in front of Brandenburg Gate on Tuesday and there was traffic chaos and hay on the Champs-Elysées on Wednesday. But it's not only in Germany and France that farmers are venting their anger. In the Netherlands and Denmark, for example, they're demonstrating against new environmental regulations and for better pay. Are the farmers' protests justified?

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Visit a farm before judging

Farmer Anne-Cécile Suzanne complains in Le Figaro that she's had enough of the agrobashing:

“I believe that both sides should try to be less arrogant. There are fewer and fewer farmers in France. Therefore it's important to make the effort to resume a dialogue. Everyone has to understand that farming is a very complex occupation subject to enormous prejudices, and that before judging it you should go to a farm and see for yourself how things are done. On the subject of organic farming, for example ... We're told that few households can afford to buy 100 percent organic. So why is it that nobody understands that we farmers will also have difficulties giving our animals nothing but organic feed?”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Not all farmers back the protest

The farmers are making the wrong demands in Berlin, the Süddeutsche Zeitung criticises:

“Instead of demanding more money for environmentally and climate-friendly farming on plots, fields and in livestock housing, they are insisting that as much as possible should remain as it is now. For them it's not they who should take action and adapt, but above all the politicians, consumers and retailers. This does not look like genuine willingness to engage in dialogue. ... Above all, however, it creates the completely false impression that all farmers are backing the protest. This is certainly not the case. Many farmers have long since recognised the signs of the times and are adapting their production methods accordingly. And not just organic farmers, but also many conventional ones. However, their voices aren't being heard in Berlin.”

Der Nordschleswiger (DK) /

Stingy consumers also to blame

On Monday the Danish government presented the measures it would take to comply with the EU Water Framework Directive were presented in Denmark. Farmers are protesting the plans. Der Nordschleswiger shows understanding with their objections:

“Many farmers are certainly willing to do their bit for clean groundwater, ecologically healthy meadows, brooks, fjords and straits with enough oxygen for fish, mussels and crustaceans. But economic constraints often act as a brake. ... Whether the project is practicable remains to be seen, It entails costs - and the agricultural sector can't bear them all without the participation of society as a whole. Because intensive, polluting farming is a consequence of discount food prices and 'stingy' consumers who share the responsibility, even if they're not aware of it.”