• France's news in English

Why the French back their striking farmers

The Local · 4 Aug 2015, 13:10

Published: 04 Aug 2015 13:10 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Their tractors blockaded the Normandy town of Caen for days. They also dumped manure on the main roads leading into Lyon and into the country’s second most-visited tourist attraction in Mont Saint-Michel.

Their militant action caused motorists to be stuck for hours in tailbacks around the country and forced tourists to walk to Mont Saint-Michel with their luggage.

They emptied supermarket fridges of foreign meat products and stopped trucks carrying milk from big producers and handed it out to motorists.

Nevertheless, despite the stink the farmers literally kicked up, the French public remain right behind them, far more than is the case with other social movements.

An opinion poll published on Tuesday revealed 86 percent of French people asked support the protests of the farmers, whose livelihoods are threatened by falling prices and changes in dietary habits.

(Farmers throw milk and fruit on the ground in July, in Lyon. Photo: AFP)

Only five percent of the population believe the radical protests by farmers were “unjustified”.

The result of the poll is perhaps not surprising given that previous social movements by farmers have also won the support of the public.

Jerôme Fourquet from France’s polling agency Ifop said there are various reasons why the French are prepared to put up with so much manure from their agriculturists.

The main reason is the French public recognizes and appreciates all the hard work they put in, and are aware of the hardship they are suffering.

“In a society that still values work, the profession of farming is perceived as worthy,” the pollster told Le Figaro.

“Farmers are perceived as people who work, who make an effort, who don’t cheat and who deserve their income.”

In short they represent the quintessential image of “the France that wakes early”, Fourquet said, choosing an expression coined by former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

A farmer is a symbol not just of a hard-working France but the country itself.

French leaders should be more like French parents

“The farmer represents the part of the national identity of a country whose roots are rural and peasant,” says Fouquet.

Story continues below…

“In the last three generations every French person or almost, had at least one member of the family who was a peasant,” he added.

In addition, the cause of the farmers is an honourable one for the French. They are not Air France pilots demanding their highly-paid jobs be protected, or unpopular taxi drivers fighting against competition.

“The French do not forget that it is the farmers who feed the population,” said David Lacrepinière from the Chamber of Agriculture in the Ain département.

Another factor that helps is that the French — perhaps more than people from other nations — are loyal to “Made in France” products and believe local farmers make high quality produce.

They are also proud of the French rural life which wouldn’t quite be the same without its farmers,” Lacrepinière told Le Figaro.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available