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Brussels event to be attended by far-right activists disguised as farmers

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The list of speakers for an event that the Dutch organisation Farmers Defence Force is trying to stage north of Brussels today shows that it is mainly a far-right event that is trying to disguise itself as a 'farmers' protest'.  

The list of speakers published today shows that all the political speakers belong to the extreme-right: politicians from Law and Justice (PiS, the Polish member party of the European Conservatives and Reformists ECR), Vlaams Belang (belonging to Identity and Democracy ID), Forum for Democracy (Dutch member of ID until October 2022) and the Polish far-right party Konfederacji.

The event is being presented as a protest of 'warrior' farmers. The organisation is in the hands of the Farmers Defence Force, which celebrated Geert Wilders' (PVV/ID) government deal in the Netherlands, France's Coordination Rurale, which is closely linked to the National Rally (ID), and Spain's Plataforma 6F, which has close links to Vox (ECR). Europe’s largest farming unions rightfully have rejected calls to join, so fortunately the event will most likely not reach the size of the real farmer’s protests at the beginning of this year.

Copa-Cogeca, the main agriculture lobby, has already ruled out attending the event. The Dutch farmers association LTO, which has 35,000 members, will neither be attending the event. Also declined the invitation: the main Italian farmers’ organisations Coldiretti and Confagricoltura because they were critical of the new far-right linked movements. Deutscher Bauernverband, which represents 90 percent of the farmers in Germany, will not participate in the protest. COAG, the largest farmers’ organisation in Spain, has said that its members will not join the protest on 4 June.  

European Green top candidate Bas Eickhout said:
"We congratulate the mainstream farmers' organisations for staying away from this far-right event. The far-right has been feeding farmers with the lie that Europe, and the Green Deal, are to blame for their hardship. A small segment of the farmers have adopted those lies and sides with the far-right. We are willing to work with all the farmers who are operating within the framework of democracy.  We are here to offer real solutions, like changing the current fact that 80% of Europe’s subsidies go to the 20% richest farms. We are open to dialogue with the mainstream farmers' unions. But definitely not with the far-right activists who will be in Brussels today.” 

European Green top candidate Terry Reintke added:
"Farmers are amongst the first victims of climate change when their farmlands are flooded, as now in Italy and Germany, and extreme drought such as now in Spain. Climate policies that averts these extreme weather events are an urgent necessity. We are here to support  farmers to make the transition to a future-proof farming model. And we are here to change the system of subsidies so that it benefits small- and medium sized family farms instead of the billion-dollar agro-industry. We are fighting for a fair deal for farmers today and a green deal for their future.”

On May 30th, progressive farmers organised an event in Brussels highlighting the diversity of opinion within the farming movement. The grassroots movement of peasant farmers Via Campesina said on that occasion: “Abandoning the Green Deal cannot solve the problems of the European farmers, but rather does the opposite. Defending food sovereignty and decent incomes for farmers and farm workers requires ambitious policies to address the climate crisis and promote biodiversity (...) A few days before the European elections, we are concerned that this situation will be used by groups that do not have concrete proposals to address the issues of farmers, but who use farmers’ concerns to push their own political interests.”

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