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Macron heckled at the Agricultural Show

Photo: Ludovic Marin Associated Press Le président Emmanuel Macron, lors de sa visite samedi au Salon de l’agriculture, à Paris

“He would have been better off not coming. » Forty-eight hours after the ruckus caused by Emmanuel Macron's arrival at the Agricultural Show, Armelle is not losing her temper. A dairy producer in Finistère, in Brittany, she does not believe in the least in the promises made by the French president during this more than stormy visit, during which it was necessary to involve the anti-riot agents of the CRS (Republican Security Companies) and block the entry of thousands of angry visitors for hours. A first for an Agricultural Show where it was, in the president’s own words, “a mess”.

“We are angry, but he does not listen to us,” said this farmer, for whom the president completely missed his visit, although obligatory, to the Salon, which is held every year at the Porte de Versailles. In France, visiting this great regional festival which welcomes more than 600,000 visitors is an obligatory rite for leaders of all political parties. In the media world, the Salon is anticipated for weeks, and the visit of political representatives is scrutinized with more attention than an intervention in Parliament.

A mandatory passage

The all-category champion of this high-flying exercise was the former president Jacques Chirac, now deceased, who took ever new pleasure each year in, as he liked to say, “flattering the cows' asses” and tasting andouille de Guémené washed down with a glass of red wine. Without reaching this level, all the presidents have engaged in this crowd bath representing popular France, even if it meant causing some incidents. Like Nicolas Sarkozy who, in 2008, replied “get lost, you bastard! » to a visitor who refused to shake his hand.

Nothing to do, however, with the six CRS companies deployed on Saturday, while the president mainly met with union leaders and cut the ribbon of the show in a half-empty hall to the sound of whistles from demonstrators . In shirt sleeves, Emmanuel Macron did not forget either, a little over three months before the European elections, to accuse the National Rally (RN) of controlling the third French agricultural union, the Rural Coordination.< /p>

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It must be said that this visit came after several weeks of militant actions by the peasant movement. The day before, Emmanuel Macron had to catastrophically cancel the “great debate” which was to open the Salon, his advisors having invited, amid general incomprehension, an environmentalist organization whose action is often characterized by violence, The Uprisings of Earth. “It’s nonsense,” the president exclaimed in response to this fiasco, after denying having “initiated such an invitation.”

To add to the black series, this weekend, the daily La Marseillaisemade its front page with a quote from the president asserting that “smicards prefer VOD subscriptions to healthier food”. A statement that the Élysée denies having made, but that four union representatives from the agricultural world say they heard.

Bardella on conquered ground

This visit was in stark contrast to Jordan Bardella's visit 24 hours later. The president of the National Rally marched for several hours on conquered ground. Where the CRS surrounded Emmanuel Macron, the head of the RN list in the European elections was able to be photographed all smiles and cheers in front of Oreillette, the 800 kilo Norman cow who became the muse of this 60th edition of the show.

His comments on the renegotiation of the Green Deal in Brussels, the exit from free trade agreements and the end of “punitive ecology” seemed music to the ears of farmers. And the crowd asked for more. “The President of the Republic no longer has the sensors of the country and is no longer aware of the suffering that his policies generate,” he asserted.

Macron heckled at the Agricultural Show

Photo: Thomas Samson Agence France-Presse The president of the National Rally, Jordan Bardella, was photographed all smiles on Monday

“Macron still had the courage to jump into the arena and come to the Salon. If he had not come, it would have been a shame,” underlines Philippe Berger, a sheep breeder in the Poitiers region. Less vulnerable than small dairy producers, he manages a large farm of 280 hectares and 680 head. He nevertheless believes that France, within Europe, is more Catholic than the Pope in banning pesticides which are not banned elsewhere and for which no alternative option has yet been developed. “Macron,” he said, “we will judge him by the results. »

Earlier, the president made new concessions. He had committed to no longer ban pesticides without other countries in the European Union doing the same. Question of fair competition, he said. He had promised an “emergency cash flow plan” for the most struggling farmers. But also “floor prices” in order to protect agricultural income. A demand hitherto defended by the radical left party, La France insoumise. According to the president, they “will make it possible to protect agricultural income and not give in to all the most predatory practices which, today, sacrifice our farmers and their income”. In November, the Minister Delegate in charge of Consumer Affairs, Olivia Grégoire, nevertheless said that these floor prices were reminiscent of “Cuba or the Soviet Union with the successes we know of them”.

“They know how to talk”

Behind Emmanuel Macron and Jordan Bardella, the new Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, slipped discreetly into the Agricultural Show without making any noise. “The show is not a media circus, nor a political circus, nor an activist circus,” he declared in reaction to Jordan Bardella, but perhaps also to Emmanuel Macron.

“They know how to talk well. But when the time comes to do it, it’s something else,” says Jean-Louis Margotton, a Charolaise breeder in Roanne, in the Loire. If he is so skeptical, it is because, in his region, half of breeders aged 52 to 60 will retire within a few years. However, a large number cannot find a buyer. Fortunately, he has a 17-year-old daughter who has just started agricultural school. But not everyone is so lucky. Once Europe's leading agricultural producer, France lost 100,000 farms in ten years, from 2010 to 2020, and only 389,000 remained in 2020.

Around his farm, Raymond Palafre, a cereal grower in Tarn, sees hundreds of hectares returned to nature. “It’s sad to see this. These are lands that have been cleared. » Fortunately, his 22-year-old grandson, Baptiste, took over the operation. He deplores an increasingly bureaucratized agriculture. “We spend at least one day a week filling out paperwork. We don't want to break everything. But we are tired of living on aid. In France, we produce quality. We want to make a living from our profession with a fair price for what we produce. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116