By: Robert Schmad, Daily Caller News Foundation
Farmers in Belgium plan to block road access to the second-largest port in the country in protest of the European Union’s environmental regulations and cheap food imports, Reuters reported.
Farmers are planning to block access to Belgium’s North Sea port for at least 36 hours beginning on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The General Farmers Syndicate, the union representing the farmers, says they are targeting the port because they believe it is receiving financial support at the expense of domestic farmers.
Belgian farmers are subject to pesticide, land use and fertilizer use regulations that producers outside the EU do not need to adhere to. Farmers have argued that cheap, tariff-free agricultural imports from Ukraine, where environmental regulations are not as strong, make it difficult for them to stay in business.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo appears to be taking the farmer’s grievances seriously, having scheduled a meeting with different farmers’ groups on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
“It is important that they are listened to,” De Croo said.
Some tractors at Belgian farmer protests earlier this month carried banners that read “if we die, you will starve,” accordingto Barrons. Members of the farmers’ union were also photographed wearing shirts that said “no farmers, no food, no future.”
A requirement for farmers to leave 4% of their arable land fallow, or unused, to qualify for EU agricultural subsidies was one of the flashpoints that led to the mass farmer protests, Reuters reported. The European Commission is expected to propose a rule that would waive these fallow requirements on Thursday.
A group of farmers occupying a square in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is planning to stay put until at least Thursday, when EU officials descend on the city to discuss policy, Reuters reported.
The Belgian farmers are not the first to protest the EU’s environmental regulations.
Similar protests have cropped up in France, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany in recent months.
The Belgian Agency for Agriculture and Fisheries and the General Farmers Syndicate did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.