French farmers lift road blockades around Paris after the prime minister offers a support plan

PARIS (AP) — French farmers were gradually lifting their roadblocks around Paris and elsewhere in the country on Friday, a day after the French government offered over 400 million euros ($436 million) in various measures meant to answer their grievances over low earnings, heavy regulation and unfair competition from abroad.

On major highways around the French capital, protesters took down tents, cleaned up the road and set fire to straw bales that they were using as barricades. Convoys of tractors were leaving the sites in a peaceful and orderly manner amid a large police deployment meant to ensure the security of operations.

Arnaud Rousseau, the president of the biggest farmers union, FNSEA, speaking on news broadcaster BFM, said “we now want to work” on the government’s proposals and take “concrete” steps within the next few weeks.

Rousseau said farmers would keep a close eye on whether the government implements its promises by June and warned that they are ready to protest again as the country gets ready for the Paris Olympics this summer.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, whose earlier promises to address farmers’ issues had failed to quell the French protests, announced a new set of measures.

They included hundreds of millions of euros in aid, tax breaks and a promise not to ban pesticides in France that are allowed elsewhere in Europe — which French farmers say leads to unfair competition.

Attal notably announced 150 million euros ($162 million) in aid to livestock farmers and a decrease in taxes on farms being transferred from older generations to younger ones, as well as 80 million euros ($87 million) in emergency aid to struggling wine producers.

French President Emmanuel Macron, at a Brussels news conference, said that the French government’s latest pledges to farmers meant that he had heard their concerns. He said he won major concessions from the EU, describing it as a “deep revision of the logic” of European farming policy.

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