Woman killed after car hits roadblock set up by protesting farmers in France

Farmers have been blocking highways across the country in protest at rising costs, taxes and green regulation

Holly Evans
Tuesday 23 January 2024 10:50 GMT
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A woman has died after a car hit a roadblock set up by protesting farmers in France
A woman has died after a car hit a roadblock set up by protesting farmers in France (AFP via Getty Images)

A woman has died after a car hit a roadblock set up by farmers in southern France, as agricultural protests take over the nation.

“A car went into a farmers’ roadblock. It hit three people. One woman has died and two others were seriously injured. The three occupants of the car have been arrested,” a police spokesman said.

He said he could not immediately give more details about how the car hit the roadblock in the Ariege region.

Across the country, France’s farmers have been protesting over a long list of grievances, which includes bans on pesticides that are cleared for use in other countries, government red tape, unfair competition from Ukrainian imports and rising costs.

Many of these issues have also sparked demonstrations with farmers across Europe, with protests previously taking place in Germany and the Netherlands.

This aerial photograph shows farmers blocking the highway A64, to protest against taxation and declining income (AFP via Getty Images)

With president Emmanuel Macron growing wary of farmers’ support for the far right ahead of the European Parliament elections in June, a draft farming law has been put on hold while the government meets with farming representatives this week.

On Monday, Arnaud Rousseau, the leader of the biggest farming union, warned that the farmers would protest “for as long as necessary”, with hundreds participating in roadblocks along highways and setting up checkpoints near the city of Toulouse.

During a visit to a French farm, far-right leader Jordan Bardella accused “Macron’s Europe” of wanting “the death of [French] agriculture” and told reporters: “Farmers are part of our identity and I refuse to let them die.”

Bardella is due to lead Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party into the European elections, with concerns growing among mainstream parties that they could poach the farming voter base.

Many farmers say their livelihoods are threatened as food retailers step up pressure to bring down prices after a run of high inflation.

The French national flag drapped between two tractors as farmers block the A7 motorway near Albon, southeastern France. (AFP via Getty Images)

Following a meeting with prime minister Gabriel Attal and farming minister Marc Fesnea, Rousseau said they will continue to protest pending government actions.

“We told him (Attal) we wouldn’t settle for words,” Rousseau, head of FNSEA, told reporters. “We told (him) that, to build confidence, he needed to go into the field. He committed to meeting farmers in the field in the coming days”.

He said they would also seek assurances from Attal and Fesneau that a special law aimed at keeping farming revenues stable would be better enforced.

Farming policy has always been a sensitive issue in France, the European Union’s biggest agricultural producer, with thousands of independent producers of wine, meat and dairy.

Farmers have a track record of disruptive protests, with similar demonstrations occurring in the past.

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