Malta, farmers protest against national authorities and the EU

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Maltese farmers took to the streets of Malta in a second national protest in two weeks against the Maltese government and the EU rules. The protest organized by the Ghaqda Bdiewa Attivi, along with others representing various sectors within the local food industry, ended in Valletta where local farmers voiced their worries and fears regarding overregulation and its detrimental effects on Maltàs agriculture sector. Before reaching Valletta, farmers onboard tractors and other farming vehicles stopped at the offices of the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority. They fixed signs reading “we are here to safeguard their food” and “no farmers, no food, no future” to the main door. Farmers say the authority should check on products coming from foreign, and especially non-EU, countries. The farmers met with Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo, who showed solidarity with the farmers. Shadow Agriculture Minister Toni Bezzina also said that the Opposition backed the farmers, saying “it does not make sense to put Malta in the same categories as other countries, with much larger resources and land than ours”. The Ghaqda Bdiewa Attivi presented several proposals to the Maltese government aimed at mitigating the adverse impact of these policies. Farmers’ lobby president Malcolm Borg said that should the government implement the proposals, food producers would be able to withstand the impact of the new EU rules. Farmers urged Maltese politicians, when voting at the European level, to engage with groups of farmers to speak coherently about the challenges they face. They also accused the Maltese government that had voted against their interests so they had to come out and protest. Farmers and herdsmen are also upset with EU trade deals that remove or reduce barriers for non-EU agricultural products. They are also against state aid rules that limit government support, and EU rules that reward farmers for leaving fields fallow – a technique to allow land to recover – saying this was an incentive to landowners to keep land unproductive. Farmers also say European legislation intended to make farming more environmentally friendly is being introduced too quickly and without the necessary support. Another argument is that compliance to EU regulations is increasing and reduce the productivity, while facing influx of less-regulated non-EU products into European markets.
– Photo credit: Agenzia Fotogramma –

Source: medNews