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French farmers drive their tractors in a go-slow protest in Compans, near Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, on January 27 (OSV News/Benoit Tessier, Reuters)

As many as 20 French bishops from mainly rural dioceses have issued statements of solidarity with farmers whose protests culminated in an attempt to blockade Paris with their tractors last week. Source: The Tablet.

Protests against rising costs, subsidy cuts, new environmental rules and competition from abroad also spread to other European countries. The Brussels-based EU bishops conference group, Comece, called for a sustainable future for all.

“Farmer friends, we want to give our support to you who are demonstrating in the country, demanding justice and consideration for your profession,” said five bishops from Montpellier, in the south of France.

“Faced with increased costs that crush you, ever more restrictive standards imposed on you, the permanent controls and excessive administrative procedures, you suffer to the point of crying out in despair.”

A statement by four bishops from Brittany in the north-west said: “We hear your anger, which manifests your despair and your dismay in the face of more and more constraints that prevent you from doing your job.”

They also voiced support for fishermen in their statement, in recognition of their coastal dioceses, whereas the bishops of the Montpellier province – known for its wine – had included vineyard workers in theirs. 

Other statements came from individual dioceses around France, linked to the webpage of the national bishops’ conference. The website noted that delegations of bishops have visited the annual Paris Agriculture Salon – a can’t-miss photo-op for all leading politicians – since 2016.

Comece’s statement came last week as European farmers gathered in Brussels to protest at an EU leaders’ summit. 

The bishops welcomed new EU dialogue on agriculture and hoped the talks “will mark the beginning of a new way of doing politics in Europe” and put farmers at “the centre of these considerations”.


Bishops across France back farmers’ protest (By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet)