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Angry French farmers storm into agriculture fair in Paris

farmers protest during the opening of paris international agricultural show
Farmers clash with members of the French police as they protest inside the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre

A group of French farmers stormed into a major Paris farm fair on Saturday ahead of a planned visit by President Emmanuel Macron amid anger over costs, red tape and green regulations.

Facing dozens of police officers inside the trade fair, the farmers were shouting and booing, calling for the resignation of Macron and using expletives aimed at the French leader.

“This is our home!”, they shouted, as lines of French CRS riot police sought to contain the demonstration. There were some clashes with demonstrators and the police arrested at least one of them, a Reuters witness saw.

Macron, who had breakfast with French farmers’ union leaders, was scheduled to walk within the alleys of the trade fair afterwards.

“I’m saying this for all farmers: you’re not helping any of your colleagues by smashing up stands, you’re not helping any of your colleagues by making the show impossible, and in a way scaring families away from coming,” Macron told reporters after his meeting with union leaders.

The Paris farm show – a major event in France, attracting around 600,000 visitors over nine days – was scheduled to open at 9 a.m. (0800 GMT). The doors were still closed at 0838 GMT, following the storming by angry farmers.

In a sign of tensions between French farmers and the government, Macron canceled a debate he wanted to hold at the fair on Saturday with farmers, food processors and retailers, after farmers unions said they would not take part.

Farmers have been protesting across Europe, calling for better income, less bureaucracy and denouncing unfair competition from cheap Ukrainian goods imported to help Kyiv’s war effort.

Farmers’ protests, which have spread across Europe, come as the far right, for which farmers represent a growing constituency, is expected to make gains in European Parliament elections in June.

French farmers earlier this month largely suspended protests that included blocking highways and dumping manure in front of public buildings after Prime Minister Gabriel Attal promised new measures worth 400 million euros ($433 million).

But protests resumed this week to put pressure on the government to provide more help and deliver on promises, ahead of the Paris farm show.

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