How big is the problem with the farming industry in Europe? BIG. Protests and demonstrations are still regularly planned all over Europe. In the news the Netherlands, France and Germany are often mentioned when there are protests, but also in Romania, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Poland and Bulgaria there were farmers who protested. To give an example of how many farmers are protesting against the regulations in Europe: On 26 November 2019, 40,000 farmers and 8,600 tractors made their way across Germany to have a rally at the Berlin Brandenburg gate.
In a previous column I explained the movement reasons of more than 2,200 Dutch farmers to take action, but just to refresh the memory: The farmers protest against the increasing environmental protection requirements and falling product prices, which are increasingly damaging their businesses. Many farmers throughout the years have witnessed how their economic base is deteriorating drastically.
Also various media, politicians and activists also paint a negative picture of the farming industry. This by accusing the farming industry of maintaining the nitrogen crisis and global warming. The farmers also feel that this is only being blamed on them, while other countries are still emitting much more pollution and are taking little or no action against it.
Dramatically changed & Statistics
The farming landscape has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. The number of people working in this sector has been greatly reduced. In 1960 in France alone there were still over 4 million people in the farming industry. In 2015 this was less than a quarter of that.
Apart from that, many young people no longer want to work in this industry because they fear for the future and because the conditions in which European farmers have to work are becoming increasingly difficult. Farmers almost never have a holiday, most have a working week of 70+ hours and salaries are very tight because of the ever decreasing profits.
In the statistics you can see that since 1800 the people who worked in the farming industry in England, the Netherlands, Poland, France and Italy almost went down in a straight line. And around 1980 in these countries the percentage has gone dramatically down again: https://ourworldindata.org/employment-in-agriculture. In fact, most agriculture is not located in Europe, but more in Japan, the US and other continents. So why is Europe so strict with the world's smaller group of farmers?
It is believed that every year 600 French farmers commit suicide, in Germany this is a minimum of 500 farmer and in Belgium 400. (Source: https://www.euronews.com/2015/10/02/farmers-suicides-the-rising-human-cost-of-the-eu-s-agriculture-crisis ) This problem is also noticeable in Italy and Romania, but there are no official numbers or statistics about these countries. If this is true it is terrible that farmers, one of the oldest professions in the world, are driven into a corner like this. This is a problem that has to be solved, it can't go on like this! We must save and support European farmers.
Some people consider ''there are too many farmers, so there is too much competition and therefore the prices continue to fall'' as a good argument for the problem that farmers are getting more and more financially troubled. But according to the statistics, the number of farmers has only decreased and the production costs, due to obligations from European regulations, are much higher and are still rising..