Nearly 5000 tractors were ready to form a blockade across the country as Greek farmers continued their stand off with the government over financial support. Despite pleas from the prime minister, Giorgos Papandreou for the farmers to show restraint,the farmers have once again decided to continue their protests by tightening road blocks across the nation. Thessaloniki, Greece. 26/01/2010.
With nearly 5000 tractors ready to move into action across the country Greek farmers have continued their stand off with the government over financial support.
Despite pleas from the Prime Minister, Giorgos Papandreou for the farmers to show restraint the farmers have once again decided to continue their protests by tightening road blocks across the nation, effectively cutting off Athens and other major cities. In addition land crossings with fellow EU members, Bulgaria have also been affected by the farmer's blockade to the tune of three million Euros a day.
Tractors blocking major road junctions have been a favoured form of protest for decades, however, with Greece's economic woes and public spending under ever more stringent scrutiny from both the European Union and the world's financial markets the recently elected left wing PASOK government has little room for manoeuvre.
For their part farming leaders have shown little willingness to back down and have widened the scope of their protests with tractors shutting down more and more junctions and entering cities in order to bring attention to their demands.
Although Greek consumers have faced steep rises in the cost of basic food items since the introduction of the Euro, producers complain that prices paid for agricultural products have remained stagnant over the last five years. The result has been differences of over a 1000% between the price paid by producers and that paid by consumers.
In the latest attempt at conciliation, the minister for Agricultural Development, Katerina Batzela announced measures that would effectively limit the mark up on agricultural products to a maximum of 100%.
However, even if Greek farmers win their present battle future trouble remains on the horizon with just three more years of guaranteed farm subsidies before the EU reviews its Common Agricultural Policy in 2013. With farms substantially smaller than the European average, many wonder how small family farms, which make up the bulk of the country's agricultural production, will survive cuts in European funding.
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