French riot police arrest dozens of farmers after they stormed 'belly of Paris' food market

French riot police arrest dozens of farmers after they stormed 'belly of Paris' food market

WATCH NOW: Farmers block motorways around Paris in row over pay and red tape

GB News
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 01/02/2024

- 11:31

The market feeds 12 million people daily

French police have arrested almost 80 protesting farmers after they stormed a food market dubbed the “belly of Paris”.

The market in Rungis, which feeds 12 million people daily, was converged on by angry farmers, who are demanding better working conditions and pay.

Beginning this week, agricultural workers across the country have cut off major roads leading into the capital, calling it their “siege of Paris”.

Emmanuel Macron’s government previously announced concessions to try and appease the farmers. However, the president warned that any action taken to cut off Rungis, the world’s largest fresh food market, would be a step too far.

French farmers are blocking the A6 highway near Chilly-Mazarin, south of Paris

French police have arrested almost 80 protesting farmers after they stormed a food market in Rungis, which provides food to 12 million people daily


In anticipation of the farmers’ arrival, police units had been deployed along the A6 motorway.

Last night, 79 protesters were detained after they broke into a storage area in the market causing damage, a police source said. However, the farmers have disputed these claims.

Earlier that day, 18 people were arrested for blocking access to Rungis, with police saying that they “inferred with traffic”.

Arnaud Rousseau, head of France's largest agricultural union the FNSEA, said that “there are huge expectations” among farmers for change.


French farmers block highway in Paris

French farmers block highway in Paris in a demand for better working conditions


He added that not all of the demands could be immediately answered “so I'm trying to call for calm and reasonableness”.

Earlier this week, FNSEA and the Young Farmers group warned of “an indefinite siege of the capital”, as agricultural workers seek to raise pressure on Emmanuel Macron.

“[Blockading Paris] will happen naturally. Parisians are going to be hungry. The goal is to starve Parisians. That’s it”, said Benoît Durand, a grain farmer.

They aim to stop food from reaching supermarkets. As deliveries are sent in every day, if this were to be suddenly stopped, Paris would only have three days’ worth of food.

Macron will meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at an EU summit today to vote on Ukrainian aid, and whilst it is not on the official agenda, it is likely the farmers’ protests will also be discussed.

Farmers in Brussels march on European Parliament

Farmers also marched on Brussels in protest over EU red tape


Previously announced concessions in France included a plan to slowly reduce state subsidies on agricultural diesel and an easing of environmental regulations, which was publicised last Friday.

However, unions said that this was not enough and promised to ramp up the pressure and continue with the blockades.

The protests began in France and have since spread to Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal, with all saying that they are not being paid enough, are being choked by taxes and green rules, and face unfair competition from abroad.

In Belgium, vexed agricultural workers have stormed the square outside the EU headquarters in Brussels.

Carrying firecrackers and travelling in tractors, the farmers lit a bonfire outside the building ahead of the summit taking place later today.

Police estimate around 1,000 tractors have joined in on the blockade.

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