AFP Paris


Updated Saturday, February 24, 2024-16:48

After more than four hours of

delay and amid boos, insults and fights

, French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated the agricultural show in Paris on Saturday, a key event for a dissatisfied sector that staged major demonstrations in January.

The agricultural show, an annual fair that

French presidents usually attend

, takes place in the capital until March 3 and this year it occurs in a tense context, after farmers blocked several highways in the country at the end from January.

Macron's arrival at the meeting, around 08:00 (07:00 GMT), coincided with

scenes of violence and confusion,

with dozens of protesters trying to force the bars to enter the place before opening time, causing clashes with security forces. .

The president was protected by dozens of

riot police, who regularly pushed protesters

away from him.

Some of them called him a "liar", shouted "get out" and urged him to resign.

The hall was inaugurated by Macron four and a half hours late compared to the initial program.

But despite the scenes of chaos, he managed to hold informal talks

with farmers

, some of whom were members of the country's three main agricultural unions.

"I always prefer dialogue to confrontation (...) Confrontation produces nothing," declared the 46-year-old president,

re-elected for a second

five-year term against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in 2022.

Macron promised, among others, to propose the establishment of "minimum prices" to

"protect agricultural income"

, within the framework of a new law that must regulate relations between the different actors in the food industry.

French President Emmanuel Macron caresses the Norman cow "Oreillette" at the agricultural show.AFP

These "minimum prices" will be based on the production cost indicators of each sector (poultry, dairy, beef...).

In November, the French Minister of Consumer Affairs, Olivia Grégoire, had opposed a

similar measure voted and rejected in Parliament

, and alleged that it reminded her of "Cuba or the Soviet Union."

The president also reiterated his desire to prevent a

pesticide from being banned

in France before the rest of the European Union, to avoid distortions of competition.

Following the agricultural protests that shook the country at the end of January, Macron

had already announced a series of measures


These included greater control of the origin of products and the refusal to sign the trade agreement between the European Union and the South American Mercosur bloc.

On the first day of the agricultural show, however, he showed his rejection of the

idea that international trade

would harm the local agricultural sector.

The protests in recent weeks

also affected other European countries

, such as Germany, Poland, Romania, Belgium, Italy and Spain.