A convoy of tractors was poised at the weekend, to descend on Rome as farmers’ protests caused disruptions across Europe, though they wound down in France following government concessions.

Farmers have expressed anger at what they say are excessively restrictive regulations on agriculture and unfair competition, among other grievances.

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The movement erupted in France last month and there have also been protests in Germany, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Greece, and the Netherlands. Farmers have blocked motorways and disrupted traffic in key cities with convoys of tractors.

In Italy on Saturday, February 3, around 150 tractors massed in Orte, about an hour north of Rome. Protesters there called for better pay and conditions and announced their imminent arrival in the Italian capital.

“Italian agriculture has woken up,” protester Felice Antonio Monfeli said. “It’s historic and the people here are proving it. For the first time in their history, farmers are united under the same flag, that of Italy.”

The demonstrators have for days been calling for talks with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government, without having had a response so far.

“The situation is critical, we cannot be slaves in our own companies,” said another protester, Domenico Chiergi.

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In Greece, around 2000 farmers protested in the country’s second-largest city of Thessaloniki on Saturday calling for increases in aid. Their action came a day after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced further support measures.

Some farmers from the mountain villages of Thessaly threw chestnuts and apples that had spoiled because of the natural disasters that hit the region.

“We have no food, we cannot put our lives in discount,” said Kostas Tzelas, president of the Rural Associations of Karditsa. “We want to stay on our land and not become migrants.”

Mitsotakis has already extended the refund of a special consumption tax on oil and a discount on rural electricity from May to September. It is among a package of measures whose cost Mitsotakis put at more than €1 billion- (US$1.1 billion).

But Tzelas dismissed these measures as “peanuts”.

The president of a union of agricultural associations, Rizos Maroudas, said meeting was scheduled next week “to decide the escalation of blockades”.