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Czech farmers dump manure on Prague streets in protest

Czech farmers have dumped manure in front of the government’s office, blocked Prague streets with tractors and taunted the country’s farm minister as they renewed protests demanding more help and a halt to cheap imports to the European Union.

Farmers across the EU have taken to the streets this year, calling for the removal of restrictions placed on them by a Green Deal plan to tackle climate change and for customs duties on farm products from Ukraine to be re-imposed.

Yesterday, thousands of Polish farmers protested outside the prime minister’s office in Warsaw, burning tyres and throwing firecrackers. Last month farmers in Brussels set tyres alight outside an EU farm ministers’ meeting.

Czech farmers, in their third protest since mid-February, rolled into Prague early today in hundreds of tractors, lining streets and a river road leading to the government offices, bringing traffic to a standstill in several spots.

Police said farmers dumped manure in front of government headquarters, leading to one arrest.

Farmers marched on foot before midday to protest in front of the government building, where they used whistles and sirens while shouting “shame” amid scattered hay bales and waving signs saying “Don’t take our jobs”.

“The government should take farmers’ demands seriously. Not only in the Czech Republic, but around Europe the future of farming is playing out,” 50-year-old farmer Ivo Kasal said.

“For now it looks like the Czech government wants us to be maintenance workers for the landscape.”

The government has said it would not be pressured in talks with farmers, with Prime Minister Petr Fiala saying it was like “blackmail”.

Agriculture Minister Marek Vyborny criticised dumping manure on the street, and was interrupted by jeers several times when he appeared and addressed the demonstration.

Farmers say they are the ones being put under pressure by the government and EU policies.

“We have had enough,” Agrarian Chamber president Jan Dolezal told the crowd outside the government office.

The Agrarian Chamber has called for subsidies matching 2022 levels and programmes to support employment in farming, along with a reduced property tax for farmland.

It also wants the government to help tackle a surplus in EU markets caused by cheap imports.

“I don’t like what they do to us, that they import rotten grains, meanwhile we can produce proper grain full of worth,” tractor driver Zbynek Slajchrt, 56, said.

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