Brussels protest/ Alessandro Ford

Hundreds of farmers with a tractor line up caused mayhem to workers and commuters after rallying onto Rue de la Loi Brussels, around the EU headquarters, on Monday (today).

From Rue de la Loi, these farmers then proceeded to make their way to Schuman roundabout, in close proximity to the meeting being held by EU Agriculture Ministers.

Protests have escalated with tires set on fire, manure on the streets and ignored police barricades, prompting police to use water cannons.

This was not an uncommon sight as, earlier this month, protests turned violent when hay bales were set on fires, a statue was toppled and eggs and firecrackers were thrown at police.

This time round, local police warned local residents to make use of public transport, although metro stations Schuman and Maalbeek were shut down. Additionally, law enforcement surrounded EU headquarters with concrete barriers and barbed wire.

Protests have been widespread across Europe with Maltese farmers rallying peacefully in unison with other European farmers.

Commenting on the protest, general coordinator of farming organisation La Via Campensina, Morgan Ody, said that the protest is being held because “the EU is not listening to their demands.”

“Our demands are for fair revenue. We produce the food and we don’t make a living. Why is that? Because of free trade agreements, because of deregulation, and because the prices are below the costs of production. So, we demand the EU to move on this,” he pleaded.

Today, 27 Agriculture Ministers met to discuss the proposals set out by the protesting farmers and methods on how to ease pressures.

Among the Ministers, Maltese Minister for Agriculture Anton Refalo left for Brussels on Sunday and is currently participating in the discussions.

Writing on his Facebook page, Minister Refalo stated that he will present the interests of Maltese and Gozitan farmers.

“We are committed to offer support for our farmers, not only in the local scene but in the European fora,” he added.

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