A female farmer was killed when her car crashed into a roadblock during a nationwide protest by French farmers on Tuesday.
According to reports, the woman, in her thirties, was traveling with her husband and teenage daughter along routes cut off by farmers in the southwestern regions of France. She was killed when the car went through a warning barrage, colliding at speed with bales of straw blocking traffic in Pamiers, Ariège.
Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau said it was a “tragedy for all of us.”
The husband and daughter are currently in intensive care after the incident, which is under investigation. Fesneau said that he canceled his trip to an EU meeting in Brussels to travel to the site, noting that the woman died “while defending her profession.”
Fédération nationale des syndicats d’exploitants agricoles (FNSEA), the largest farm union in France is considering nationwide protests in the weeks to come.
The protests have provided the newly appointed prime minister, Gabriel Attal, with challenges in his new position. Attal wrote on Twitter, “Our Nation is shocked and united.”
Ce matin, en Ariège, une agricultrice est morte, percutée par une voiture. Deux membres de sa famille ont été gravement blessés.
Aujourd’hui, tous nos agriculteurs sont en deuil. Notre Nation est bouleversée et solidaire.
Au nom du Gouvernement, je veux dire ma peine et…
— Gabriel Attal (@GabrielAttal) January 23, 2024
Attal had met with farming unions on Monday, but farmers had blocked roads across the country by Tuesday morning, including around Toulouse, Isère, and Beauvais.
Along with the roadblocks, farmers drove to the prefect’s office in Agen, dumping piles of tripe, kiwifruit, and red paint on the building, hanging a banner reading, “We won’t die in silence.”
Just weeks prior, farmers had gathered tractors and headed to Dijon, France, spraying Regional Council buildings with manure in protest against the elected assembly.
“We’re prepared for anything; we’ve got nothing to lose,” said Josep Perez, a protester interviewed by BFM TV at a roadblock in the south-western fruit-growing region around Agen, where traffic on the A62 motorway had been disrupted.
Reports indicate that the farmers do not intend to lift the roadblocks until the prime minister provides assuage for their concerns.
The protests have come under the pressure of increased diesel prices, higher taxes, climate change, and agricultural policies.
Similar issues have led farmers in other European nations to take action: tractors have brought traffic to a standstill in Germany and Romania.
Farmers are also protesting in the Netherlands and Poland. In Romania, farmers protested for the thirteenth consecutive day.
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Author: Heidi Crnkovic