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“Give us back the land”: the FNSEA stormed at the Agricultural Show


Activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion demonstrate at the foot of the FNSEA stand at the Agricultural Show on February 27, 2022 in Paris (AFP / Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT)

“Against extinction, rebellion!” Shout at the top of their lungs the environmental activists chained at the foot of the FNSEA stand: under the rather hostile gaze of the public, they came on Sunday to denounce the “productivist and deadly model” advocated according to them by the first French agricultural union.

There were several dozen of them, Sunday around 1:30 p.m., storming the union stand at the Agricultural Show, dressed in white gauze coveralls, with the “lobby busters” logo plastered on the back.

Their mission: to “decontaminate” speech and reflection on agriculture, and to offer an alternative narrative to the “majority discourse”, here with large strokes of orange paint rather than polite exchanges.

“Give us back the land! Let’s end the grip of the FNSEA, let’s create resilience”, sang Extinction Rebellion activists, some standing with raised fists, others seated and chained by the neck in clusters of three – “to be hard to dislodge”.

Activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion demonstrate at the foot of the FNSEA stand during the Agricultural Show, February 27, 2022 in Paris

Activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion demonstrate at the foot of the FNSEA stand at the Agricultural Show on February 27, 2022 in Paris (AFP / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT)

About fifteen had quickly reached the floor of the stand where some executives and employees of the FNSEA were lunching. Furious, some trade unionists tried to repel the activists, briefly coming to blows, under the cameras of some journalists.

“We are here to block the FNSEA which blocks any initiative towards agroecological transition, more sustainable for farmers, the land and our health”, explained to the press “Victoire”, 35 years old and mother of two children.

– “Potato and it clears” –

“The intensive agricultural model defended by the FNSEA wreaks social havoc – a quarter of farmers live below the poverty line – health and ecological havoc, by saturated the soil and water with pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers, factors of collapse of biodiversity and massive greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

For activists, “farmers are the first victims of this model, fiercely defended by this union”. “The FNSEA is the most powerful lobby in the service of chemistry and it has succeeded in having its discourse adopted by the government”, affirms “Appi”, who is following an agricultural training and is desperate to see breeders “go into debt to produce more and more by polluting the soil”.

Activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion demonstrate by chaining themselves at the foot of the FNSEA stand during the Agricultural Show, February 27, 2022 in Paris

Activists from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion demonstrate by chaining themselves at the foot of the FNSEA stand at the Agricultural Show on February 27, 2022 in Paris (AFP / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT)

In the aisles, cries and broken dishes caught the eye. Quickly a crowd of onlookers gathered around the stand of the FNSEA, which proclaimed in green letters “Agriculture, a chance for France”.

“But what do they have to be against the meat? They are inflated to come here”, loose a passerby. “No, it’s against pesticides,” explains his partner.

Dispatched to the scene, the police deployed a large security perimeter. Some activists end up agreeing to be escorted out of the exhibition grounds, some remaining with the certainty of ending up in police custody. “We share,” they explain. The objective being to block the stand as long as possible.

“It would be me, it would be easy: potato, kick in the ass and it clears”, launches a young man. Not far away, three young breeders think no less. “Do you want a hand?” asks one of them to an FNSEA official, who politely declines.

“They trashed everything. Is that the dialogue?” breath Christine Claudon, director of communication of the union, still “shocked” by “this violence”.

A stone’s throw away, the activists chained to the ground have taken out their pocket books and are reading while waiting to be evacuated. The FNSEA is preparing to file a complaint, its first vice-president, Arnaud Rousseau, told AFP.

According to Extinction Rebellion, 38 activists were arrested at 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

© 2022 AFP

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