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Farmers protests

Czech farmers dump manure on Prague streets in renewed protests

Czech farmers dump manure on Prague streets in renewed protests
A Czech police officer walks past manure laid by protesting farmers in Prague, Czech Republic, 07 March 2024. According to organizers, hundreds of tractors and other agricultural equipment set off for the Czech capital in the morning. Farmers are demanding, among other things, launching a programme to support rural employment through a social insurance rebate, returning national subsidies to 2022 levels of CZK 5 billion, reducing property tax on agricultural land or not taxing European subsidies, limiting imports of agricultural commodities from third countries and promoting exports from the European Union. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

PRAGUE, March 7 (Reuters) - Czech farmers dumped manure in front of government offices and blocked Prague streets with tractors on Thursday as they renewed their demands for more support, less bureaucracy and a halt to cheap imports to the European Union.

Farmers across the EU have taken to the streets this year, calling for the removal of restrictions placed on them by a Green Deal plan to tackle climate change and for customs duties on farm products from Ukraine to be reimposed.

On Wednesday, thousands of Polish farmers protested outside the prime minister’s office in Warsaw, burning tyres and throwing firecrackers. Last month farmers in Brussels set tyres alight outside an EU farm ministers’ meeting.

Czech farmers, in their third protest since mid-February, rolled into Prague early on Thursday, lining hundreds of tractors along a river road leading to the government offices and snarling traffic and some public transport.

Police said farmers dumped manure, leading to one arrest.

Agriculture Minister Marek Vyborny reiterated the government would not submit to pressure.

“I am ready to go and have a fair discussion with farmers,” Vyborny said in a post on X social media platform.

“I expect an honest approach from the (protest) organisers who promised not to block traffic in Prague. I don’t finding manure dumped on tram tracks to be such an approach.”

The Czech Agrarian Chamber has called for subsidies matching 2022 levels and programmes to support employment in farming, along with a reduced property tax for farmland.

It also wants the government to help tackle a surplus in EU markets caused by cheap imports.

“The situation … is not good and is constantly getting worse,” the chamber’s president, Jan Dolezal, said ahead of the protests. “When the political will of the ruling coalition has been lacking for two years, we have to publicly ask for help.”

(Reporting by Eva Korinkova and Jason Hovet; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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