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Macron tells French farmers: Ukraine war will weigh on you, and it will last

Randy Mancini 5 Feb 26
EU council on Russia's military aggression against Ukraine
French President Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference at the end of a special meeting of the European Council in light of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium, February 25, 2022. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

February 26, 2022

PARIS (Reuters) – The war in Ukraine, and heavy sanctions Western powers have taken against Russia, will have long-lasting and serious consequences for the French farming sector, the European Union’s biggest, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.

“If you ask me to share one conviction with you this morning, it is that this crisis is here to stay, this war is here to stay,” Macron told the Paris farm show on Saturday.

Trade restrictions resulting from EU sanctions on Russia will weigh on French exports such as wine and grains, Macron said, while a further rise in energy prices will hit livestock farming.

“We are building a resilience plan,” Macron said, adding measures would be taken to protect farmers from cost pressures and compensate lost revenues.

A surge in commodity prices in the past year has benefited grain producers but squeezed livestock farmers for whom grain feed is a major cost. The government announced at the end of January a 270 million euro ($304 million) relief package for the pork sector.

The crisis in Ukraine is increasing volatility in agricultural markets, with Paris wheat futures hitting a record high on Thursday. Farmers are also worried the crisis could exacerbate supply tensions in fertilisers and disrupt the spring growing season for crops.

The annual Paris farm show, the Salon de l’Agriculture, is a major occasion in France and, coming less than two months before the first round of presidential elections, has drawn the major candidates.

French commentators long expected Macron could use his presence at the show to officially announce he will be running for a second term, a fact nobody in France doubts.

But international crises, above all Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, have thwarted the president’s calendar several times.

While Macron spent over 12 hours at the Salon’s last edition in 2020, trying to reassure farmers over the impact of Brexit and a reform of the EU’s farm policy, he only spoke on Saturday for about 15 minutes.

($1 = 0.8875 euros)

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Gus Trompiz; Editing by Mark Potter)