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FARMING

Macron to invite 1,000 ‘young’ French farmers to the Elysée as tensions build

Around 1,000 'young' French farmers are set to descend on the Elysee Palace at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron next week as tensions between France's farming community and the government build.

Macron to invite 1,000 'young' French farmers to the Elysée as tensions build
Photos: AFP
Farmers across France have been blockading roads and causing traffic chaos to raise the alarm that “villages could die” if their voices are not heard.
 
But that hasn't stopped Macron from inviting 1,000 of them, specifically those aged under 35, to the Elysée Palace in advance of Paris's annual Agricultural Fair. 
 
“They will be representative of all areas of production and all regions and will include as many women as men,” announced the Elysée. 
 
But the meeting could prove to be a tense one, with farmers currently up in arms over the government's plans to reduce the number of agricultural areas that qualify for farming subsidies from the European Union. 
 
READ ALSO:
'Villages will die': Why are furious French farmers blockading the city of Toulouse?
Photo: AFP
 
At the moment farming areas deemed “less favoured” are entitled to funding but the French government has proposed to reduce the number of areas that qualify by 100. 
 
The decision was set to be made on February 15th. However, it has since been postponed until the European Commission reaches an agreement on the matter. 
 
If it does go ahead, the areas around the southern city of Toulouse and the Haute Garonne department in the southwest will be among the most affected, with protesters saying it would deprive them of as much as €7,000 a year.
 
And farmers across the country, particularly in the southwest, have recently been taking to the roads to show their anger. 
 
Recently they blocked roads and motorways around the city of Toulouse and the nearby town of Montauban, set fire to piles of tires, palettes and hay and even grilled sausages for picnics on the motorway. 
 
“At the moment, we are very motivated to not give an inch,” Sophie Maniago from the FDSEA farmers union recently told Le Point.
 
“We're talking about the demise of farms. We would have losses of between €8,000 and €10,000. These are territories which are shutting down, which are going to become deserted, villages that are going to die,” she added. 

FARMING

French hunter kills bear that bit him

A 70-year-old hunter killed a bear in southwest France Saturday after it attacked and seriously wounded him, local officials said.

A brown bear is pictured in the semi-wildlife animal park of Les Angles, southwestern France.
Brown bears had nearly disappeared in France until the country began a reintroduction programme, importing them from Slovenia. AFP PHOTO / RAYMOND ROIG

The female bear, who was travelling with her cubs, bit him as he was hunting in the Seix region of Ariege, a source close to the case said.

Rescued by the local gendarmerie, he was transported to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Toulouse with a wound to his leg at the level of his femoral artery, officials at the prefecture in Ariege said.

One source close to the case said he was in a serious condition.

The hunter told local officials he had been out with a group of other hunters on the trail of a boar, when the female bear, who was travelling with her cubs, attacked him.

After being wounded, the hunter shot the bear twice, killing it.

The local gendarme unit was called out to rescue him at around 3:30 pm (1430 GMT). They discovered the body of the bear a few metres from where they had found the hunter.

An investigation has been opened into the incident, the prefecture in Ariege said.

One local official told AFP on Saturday: “This is really what we feared.”

“Today, you can really see that cohabitation is complicated,” said Christine Tequi, president of the Ariege department council.

The brown bear had nearly disappeared in this part of the world when France began a programme of reintroducing them, importing them from Slovenia.

Today, there are around sixty of them in the Pyrenees range, leading to increasing tensions with local farmers, because of the threat they pose to their livestock.

In 2020, three bears were illegally killed in the Pyrenees: two of them in Spain and one in France. The French government has committed to replacing any bear killed by a man.

READ ALSO: The decades-old battle between French farmers and conservationists over bears
READ ALSO: What are the most dangerous animals in France?

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