Macron BLASTED by FURIOUS crowds over agricultural policy

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, was confronted by hostile crowds on Saturday during his first visit as President to France’s largest agricultural fair.

Mr Macron faces growing pressure as he faces up to France’s powerful agricultural lobby, who have been angered by EU trade talks and Chinese land purchases.

Stephane Le Druillennec, a farmer from Brittany, said: “He listens to us but we are still waiting. We want to believe that he will do what he says.

Another farmer at the event, Jean-Noel Laverner, said: “It’s too soon to judge him but the ideas are there.”

During a heated encounter with one farmer over a weed-killer which the government has said it will ban, Mr Macron vowed to find a solution for farmers who were unable to replace it.

The Salon de l’Agriculture – the annual agricultural show and trade fair – often brings France’s politicians into heated contact with the country’s farmers.

Last year, Mr Macron was hit by an egg when he visited as a presidential candidate.

This visit came at the end of a week which saw Mr Macron outline a €5bn investment plan for France’s agricultural sector and farmers protesting against trade talks between South America and the EU.

Although Mr Macron said he did not “give a damn about preparing” for Saturday, the invitation to hundreds of farmers to visit the Elysée Palace two days ago was perceived as an attempt to decrease the chances of an aggressive reception.

He urged farmers on Thursday to welcome a “cultural revolution” and move away from EU subsidies and intense production methods as he showcased his investment plan.

But farmers fear he might push for reform of European agricultural subsidies under its Common Agricultural Policy.

However, the French leader said he would prevent the purchase of farmland by foreign “powers” and defended his plan to undo the “status quo”.

Mr Macron has also suggested he will cut EU subsidies for French farmers as part of Europe’s attempts to modernise its next long-term budget.

The bloc is desperately trying to make savings as it faces a black hole of up to €15bn after Brexit.

CAP — which provides direct aid to European farmers — makes up a third of the common pot and is being eyed by Mr Macron as something that needs to be revamped.

Mr Macron, in a speech at the Sorbonne last September, said: “We have come to this paradoxical situation in which the CAP has become a French taboo while our farmers continue to criticise the way it works.”

Jérémy Decerle, president of the Jeunes Agriculteurs, a union representing young farmers, said: “We face a future where 50 per cent of farmers might leave the profession in the next 10 years . . . we have to replace them with the young.

“It depends on the will of Europe to defend and advance agriculture. If we squeeze [CAP] to make up for . . . the financial impact of Brexit, then, yes, at some point we will lose. And it will show that for Europe, agriculture is not a strategic sector. Yes, it worries us.”