Cultivating consensus in the midst of European farming turmoil

Cultivating consensus in the midst of European farming turmoil

France has been a bit of a hotbed in recent times as farmers protest proposed legislation across the EU. Those within the Agriculture sector have taken to the streets in the masses with tractors and other oversized vehicles to show their displeasure.

Claude Bourdin, an expert on French agricultural issues, delves into the widespread farmer protests across Europe, with a particular focus on France. 

The conversation provides insights into the farmers' discontent with agricultural policies, their innovative protest tactics such as road blockades and symbolic demonstrations, and the subsequent government actions that sought to address their concerns. 

Bourdin, who has been closely monitoring the situation, describes the protests as stemming from "a deep dissatisfaction about the way the farming, agricultural policy is led." 

He notes that the French government, under the direction of the young Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, met with protesters and implemented "a lot of practical measures" to quell the unrest.

Bourdin highlights that "the EU has basically reversed green farming rules" and details other concessions made by the French government, indicating a significant victory for the farmers. He acknowledges the public's dual perception of farmers, stating, "we need them, but at the same time, we don't want our comfort to be destabilised." 

Claude Bourdin (right) with an International Farmers' Dialogue Group Claude Bourdin (right) with an International Farmers' Dialogue Group // Image Supplied

The episode also touches upon the International Farmers Dialogue, an initiative emerging from the post-WWII organisation Initiatives of Change, which aims to foster personal growth and community among farmers. 

Bourdin emphasises the value of such exchanges, noting that "it's more to help farmers to find a new perspective on their lives and a new hope and courage to work on the challenges they are facing." 

He reveals the alarming rates of farmer suicides in countries like France and India, citing 600 suicides in France and 3,800 in the Indian state of Maharashtra in a year, pointing to the deep distress within the farming community. Looking forward to an upcoming gathering in India, Bourdin remarks on the challenges of climate change and the pressures of modern agriculture. 

He articulates the difficulty of reconciling ecological and agricultural needs, suggesting that farmers are often caught between government mandates and the realities of farming. In his words, "they don't have the means to do it because the cost of anything is too high for their income." 

The episode concludes with a lighter note as Bourdin, a rugby enthusiast, reflects on the recent Rugby World Cup held in France. While expressing disappointment at the tournament's outcomes, he appreciates the sport as a form of relaxation amidst the tumultuous global backdrop. 

Listen to the full chat between Claude Bourdin and Dominic George above.

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