Credit: BIRN / Balkan Insight

Serbian farmers blockade city streets in protest over “skyrocketing essentials and record fuel prices”

Farmers in Serbia have taken to the streets in protest against rising fuel and fertiliser prices.

The cost of farm supplies and fuel have reached all-time highs in the Balkan nation, leading to the heated protests. It is believed the farmers are also disgruntled with the government’s environmental policies, as well as the low purchase price of sunflowers and the extension of the ban on oil exports.

In footage recorded on Wednesday night, droves of farmers can be seen taking to the streets of Novi Sad, a city in the north of the country, with more than 70 tractors blocking roads – and continuing the blockade throughout the night. Last night’s protest was the third day of protests by the Serbian farmers, who have been blocking roads in all major cities in Serbia. According to reports, the protesting farmers will now head to the capital, Belgrade, to meet with Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić – however there has also been speculation that Brnabić will visit to Novi Sad to meet with the farmers.

According to a report in ‘Serbian Monitor’, the Sloga Trade Unions have lent their support to the disgruntled farmers, and said in a statement that “the protests simply had to happen because farmers couldn’t take it anymore”. The Trade Unions said the farmers have suffered for the past few years, and claim the struggles they are experiencing are “exclusively the fault of the import lobby, the corrupt government and its incompetent officials”.

Following talks with representatives of the Serbian government, the farmers “temporarily suspended” the blockade in front of the Vojvodinian government building in Novi Sad until 2pm local time today, when the deadline set to meet with the prime minister for negotiations will expire. While the farmers agreed to pull the tractors off the road, ‘Serbian Monitor’ reports that they are still parked in front of the provincial government building.

The farmers have said that if the Prime Minister does not engage in talks, they will put up “much bigger blockades” than those seen on Wednesday.

“If you do not meet our demands, we will block the whole country”, those protesting are reported to have said in a message to the Serbian government.

Last month, similar scenes played out in the Netherlands when Dutch farmers poured manure on government offices, flooded the streets and blocked roads to protest climate change measures – which they have described as an attempt by their government to destroy their livelihoods.

In Ireland, government measures have also provoked anger from farmers, with many reacting with dismay at the decision to impose a 25% emissions target on agriculture. Last week, rural TD Carol Nolan said the policy is the equivalent of the government “signing their own death warrant” with rural Ireland.

Independent TD for Laois Offaly, Carol Nolan, condemned the agreed 25% emissions reductions target as “the triumph of a brutal ideological agenda over common sense and the interests of Irish farming”.

Last month, one outspoken young farmer told Gript that the government here has “turned its back on the Irish food and agriculture industry” through its all-out embrace of green policies.

“They are making family farms impossible to be profitable by constantly adding restrictions and additional costs on enterprises”, he told Gript, signalling a similar sense of disillusionment among farmers in Ireland.

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