The Salon de l’Agriculture 2024 opens amid controversy

The tractors in the streets of Paris bear witness to the high level of anger among farmers on the eve of the opening of the 60ᵉ Salon de l’Agriculture. The FNSEA declines the French president’s invitation to a debate in the presence of Soulèvements de la Terre. Last hour: debate cancelled

A communications error? That’s what the Élysée asserts, in a surprising tweet, about the invitation from the radical environmental association Les Soulèvements de la Terre to the debate proposed by Emmanuel Macron at the opening of the 60ᵉ Salon de l’Agriculture, this Saturday, February 24, 2024, at Porte de Versailles. Objective: to calm farmers’ anger. Unluckily, this ecumenical debate, “open and unfiltered” as intended by the Élysée, provoked a violent polemic. FNSEA president Arnaud Rousseau refused to accept the invitation due to the presence of representatives from Soulèvements de la Terre, the collective that Gérald Darmanin wanted to dissolve last November due to its radical positions. But his decree was rejected by the Conseil d’État.

“Neither contacted nor invited

The refusal of the FNSEA, France’s leading farmers’ union, to debate with the President was seen as an affront by the Élysée, which immediately backtracked by awkwardly evoking “a communication error”. The Élysée’s communicators got bogged down in their clumsiness, thinking it useful to specify that the much-criticized green collective had been “neither invited nor contacted”, contrary to the evidence. But the damage was done.

Debate for what?

We know that the Élysée invited several hundred people to attend a two-hour discussion with the President. Among the guests were representatives of farmers’ unions, major retailers, a number of agribusiness leaders, and representatives of environmental associations such as Réseau Action Climat and Générations futures.
On the agenda were the major issues raised by angry farmers: the environment, phytosanitary products, the Egalim law, unfair competition, food sovereignty and more.
Ever since Emmanuel Macron orchestrated the “great debate” five years ago, we’ve known that this exercise, in which the president excels, has no other purpose than to churn out words with a pitchfork, for hours on end. All the while knowing that the thousands of words he throws into the air always fall on deaf ears without producing the slightest useful idea for those listening.
So what’s the point of yet another debate?

Breaking news: In a tweet, the French President acknowledges the FNSEA’s refusal. He wrote: “The agricultural unions wanted this show to be different from ‘just another show’. They wanted an open “debate”. They are now calling for the show to be cancelled. Duly noted.”