French President Emmanuel Macron has announced he will hold a "great debate" event with hundreds of French farmers in the hopes of stemming ongoing protests. (EPA-EFE/AURELIEN MORISSARD / POOL MAXPPP OUT)


Macron to have ‘great debate’ with farmers in hope of curbing protests


French President Emmanuel Macron says he will hold a “great debate” with hundreds of French farmers in the hopes of stemming ongoing protests.

Planned for France’s International Agricultural Show on February 24, the discussion will feature around 200 farmers, trade unionists, and NGO representatives quizzing Macron on how he plans to support the farming industry.

“We are going to do things a little differently than usual,” an advisor to the president told French media about the plans.

The four-hour debate also reportedly includes representatives from environmentalist organisations.

Senior members of the French farming sector responded lukewarmly to the announcement.

One official expressed scepticism whether Macron will succeed in winning over disgruntled farmers.

“He will have to be good to relieve the pressure,” National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA) vice-president Damien Greffin said.

The debate is Macron’s latest attempt to win over farmers who now stage regular protests in the country. Many revolve around problems caused by EU green regulations.

French ministers had to beg Brussels to ease up its environmental programme earlier in February, after the FNSEA threatened to put Paris under siege.

The government’s attempt at mediation temporarily succeeded in placating demonstrators. This feeling of goodwill now appears to be running dry.

Farmers once again have engaged in small-to-medium scale demonstrations across France, demanding more effort from the government.

Despite the rocky relationship, Macron has sought to keep farmers on side.

The president regularly engages France’s largest farming unions in private meetings, even inviting one senior union figure to become an MEP for his party in 2019.

In 2023, Macron spent more time at the International Agricultural Show than any other sitting French president. He attended the event for a total of 16 hours.