Farmers arrested as protests blockade key food market, close in on Paris
22:18, Wednesday, 31 January, 2024
France has been at the centre of growing rural discontent across Europe, with protests also held in Germany, Poland, Romania, Belgium and Italy. Spanish farmers have said they will join the movement.
Amid mounting calls for higher incomes, less red tape and protection from foreign competition, “there are huge expectations” among farmers, said Arnaud Rousseau, head of France’s largest agricultural union the FNSEA.
But he added that not all of the demands could be immediately answered “so I’m trying to call for calm and reasonableness”.
Eighteen people trying to blockade the Rungis wholesale food market south of Paris, a key food distribution hub for the capital region’s 12 million people, were arrested for “interfering with traffic”, police said.
Prosecutors said 15 of those arrested were in custody.
Between 200 and 300 tractors in a convoy that set off from southwest France were kept away from the market by police, who deployed armoured vehicles as a precaution.
Units were deployed along the A6 motorway leading to Rungis and police checkpoints were set up around the market.