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The Agricultural Show opens with three hours of explanations between Emmanuel Macron and representatives of the sector

Emmanuel Macron ended, Saturday February 24 in the evening, a three-hour visit to an Agricultural Show marked by boos and clashes of rare intensity, while the executive had been seeking for a month to appease the angry movement of farmers before their big annual meeting.

“Who would have said this morning that twelve hours later, we would find ourselves here continuing to work, moving forward? «, launches Emmanuel Macron before 8 p.m., satisfied to have covered the event despite a chaotic start, and tackling: “It’s ridiculous for farmers to have committed violence on a show that is theirs. »

Before the official opening, hundreds of people led by farmers from the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA), Young Farmers (JA) and Rural Coordination forced the entrance to the Parisian exhibition center in the Porte de Versailles. They burst into the main room, triggering clashes with the police. At the same time, around 8 a.m., Emmanuel Macron was speaking on the first floor with certain agricultural union officials. After a press briefing during which he called on the demonstrators to calm down, the Head of State improvised a debate lasting almost two hours with representatives of the sector – the majority of whom were executives of representative organizations.

Find the live | Live, at the Agricultural Show: Emmanuel Macron left the Porte de Versailles after a three-hour visit

During these sometimes tense exchanges, Emmanuel Macron was notably questioned pell-mell on the consequences of the war in Ukraine, on administrative simplification, on ecology experienced as “punitive” by certain farmers or even on the remuneration of farmers. “The France farm, it remains strong, it produces (…), It’s wrong to say that she’s having a hard time.»asserted the head of state, urging not to “not paint a catastrophic portrait of our agriculture”.

A summit at the Elysée in March

The President of the Republic notably announced that the agricultural orientation bill, postponed several times, would be presented to the Council of Ministers on March 20. He also announced his intention to put in place a floor price “sector by sector”. “There will be a minimum price, a floor price, below which the processor cannot buy and the distributor cannot sell”, as promised. Mr. Macron also mentioned the constitution of a “emergency cash flow plan” starting this week to relieve farmers and a meeting on the subject at the Elysée in three weeks.

The image remains of police officers from a Republican security company and mobile gendarmes wearing helmets and shields in hand trying to contain angry farmers who were insulting the head of state.

When Emmanuel Macron finally comes down, more than four hours late, to inaugurate the Salon and begin his visit, the names of birds fly (“manure”, » mentor «), as well as the screams (» Go away ! ») and calls for resignation. Laurent Nuñez, the Paris police chief, assessed between “300 and 400” the number of the most vindictive demonstrators in the morning. He reported six arrests as well as eight injuries among the police.

Farmers demonstrating in the aisles of the Agricultural Show are kept away from the space occupied by the Presidency of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, Saturday February 24, 2023.

The president of the FNSEA, Arnaud Rousseau, played an important role in the evening, on LCI, having heard during the day a “a number of advances which we welcome”in particular the prospect of a » cash plan « developed from Monday for farmers in difficulty or the desire to recognize in the law that agriculture is “of major general interest”. “We probably had to go through this moment of anger”estimated the union official.

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Calm eventually returned in the afternoon with the closing of the hall where Emmanuel Macron continued his visit, the contrast being striking between the sparse aisles around him and those crowded in the other pavilions.

The chaos in any case delayed the opening to visitors, and greatly complicated access to the most popular hall, that of the animals, the scene of scuffles with the police and boos. The first day of this sixtieth Agricultural Show was nevertheless marked by a large turnout, with many people crowding into the aisles not closed to the public.

Critics of the National Rally

“Putting the word out on the concept of floor prices is already a small revolution”, greeted Laurence Marandola, the spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne, a union opposed to intensive agriculture and which is making this demand. This minimum price for milk or beef would go further in this area than the current EGalim laws supposed to guarantee farmers a given remuneration in contracts with manufacturers and supermarkets. The government wants a new EGalim law by summer.

The FNSEA remains skeptical: “From one region to another we do not have the same charges (…) We don’t want the minimum price because otherwise it would block the price downwards and ultimately bring us back to an agricultural minimum wage.», declared to TF1 one of the vice-presidents of the union, Luc Smessaert. As for the major general interest of agriculture, a source within the executive indicates this “carries legal consequences”. This was a demand from the FNSEA and could, for example, facilitate the construction of projects dedicated to agricultural irrigation despite the presence of protected species.

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The President of the Republic also laid the groundwork for a remote debate with the National Rally (RN), before the European elections in June where the party is announced as the favorite in the polls. On the eve of the visit to the Salon of the president of the RN, Jordan Bardella, Emmanuel Macron declared a “project of degrowth and stupidity” which consisted of “leaving Europe”.

Emmanuel Macron at the end of his visit to the Agricultural Show, Saturday February 24, 2023.

The head of state then continued his criticism of the RN, declaring in particular: “I would like a project that explains to people that we are going to close the borders and that others will continue to open them for us, but that does not exist. (…) We can’t tell farmers what’s wrong, we have to stop. »

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Mr. Macron finally detailed further the measures he wants to put in place to respond to the anger of farmers – in particular the continued application of the EGalim law by installing price indicators in all sectors, which This is not the case today, as well as the creation of European regulations on purchasing centers to combat the circumvention of commercial negotiations in France.

The exchange with the press ended with an invitation to go for a drink. “Okay, we’re going to have a drink at the brewers, come on!” », launched Emmanuel Macron. The presidential motorcade left the Porte de Versailles an hour later.

The World with AFP