Tractor protests over pesticide law, fuel prices and other issues

EU Pesticide Law withdrawn following tractor protests

Business Environment News

Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini expressed satisfaction on Tuesday after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the withdrawal of a proposed pesticide law. It followed tractor protests across Europe.

The proposed pesticide law aimed to slash the use of pesticides in the EU. However, the EU backtracked amid tractor protests by farmers in many parts of Europe, including Italy.

“Long live the farmers, whose tractors are forcing Europe to go back on the madness imposed by the multinationals and the left” said Salvini, the leader of the right-wing League party.

Von der Leyen told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that the Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR), which aimed to cut by half the use of pesticides by 2030, was being pulled, saying it had “become a symbol of polarisation”.

Although EU policies and the Green Deal, which the SUR is part of, are a big factor in the tractor protests, other elements are also involved. For example, there is farmer anger at high fuel prices and the hardship many of them face, and dissatisfaction with some national policies.

Tractors from all over Italy have been converging on Rome in recent days and the farmers intend to stage a major demonstration in the Italian capital.

Meloni says government trying to support farmers

On Monday, Premier Giorgia Meloni said from Tokyo that the government has done everything possible to support farmers and the agricultural sector.

“We have always met with farmers, one of the principal sectors to which we pay attention,” Meloni told reporters in the Japanese capital.

The facts, she said, speak for themselves, citing “the budget laws through which resources have been increased”, renegotiation of the EU-funded post-Covid national recovery and resilience plan (NRRP) to increase available funding “from 5 to 8 billion euro” and “the effort to incentivise diesel”.

“We have done everything possible, a great job also in the defense of products of excellence such as (through the introduction of) the famous law banning synthetic food,” continued Meloni. “We can always work to do better and more, I am always willing to listen to requests,” she concluded.

Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida welcomed von der Leyen’s announcement. “We should only further limit agrochemicals when we are able to protect production with alternative methods,” he said.

“From day one we have opposed an ideological approach to the Issue (of the ecological transition) that would have had a devastating effects on production and a very limited effect on the environment.

“It is clear and logical that eliminating indispensable medicines for plants, leaving them prey to insects or diseases, reduces production in a drastic way, if it is not wiped out”.

Tractor protests continue

Danilo Calvani, one of the farmers leading the tractor protests in Italy, on Tuesday welcomed the announcement.
“It is an important opening,” said Calvani, the leader of the CRA Committee of ‘Betrayed Farmers’.
“It is the first partially positive proposal we have heard in the recent period.
“It is a first point in favour of our proposals. We are on the right track.
“But our protest goes on. We want deeds. We demand the cancellation of all the bilateral pacts with non-EU countries that are killing us”.

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