Hundreds of Greek farmers protest tractors on national roads against rising energy costs

On Friday, farmers in Central Greece protested hundreds of tractors on national roads against rising energy costs, dismissing government support measures, and demanding more help to combat rising prices.

Greece has spent about € 1.7 billion ($ 1.95 billion) on subsidizing electricity prices to farmers, households and businesses to help raise energy prices.

High energy costs are a major factor in inflation, reaching 5.1% in December, the highest level in the country in 11 years.

Kostas Tzelas, head of the Karditsa Agricultural Association, said rising fuel and electricity prices have increased production costs by 50%.

“That’s why we go out into the streets, the countryside is abandoned, the villages are abandoned, people can no longer cultivate, and we can no longer live in our villages,” he said at a rally. rice field. A national highway in the agricultural center of Thessaly, on the outskirts of Larissa.

Farmers protested by lining up hundreds of tractors on the freeway and trying to reach a junction on the highway connecting the country, but riot police formed guards in police vans and closed part of the freeway. I had no choice but to do it.

“We are people, not enemies, farmers fighting for our survival and our families, we don’t have clubs or Molotov cocktails. We fought with tractors. Instead of trying to solve the riot police problem, we ask the government to take political responsibility and provide a political solution. “

Farmers suffering from heavy snowfall in January, which continued to deal with debt incurred during the country’s financial crisis and affected crops, were forced to feed, fertilizer, veterinary drugs, spare parts, etc. due to rising energy costs. It states that production costs, including supply, have increased.

Thessaly produces about 14 percent of the country’s agricultural products, including grains, fruits, meat and dairy products.

At the beginning of Friday, the government announced an additional € 170 million in financial assistance to the agricultural sector.

Agriculture Minister Spilios Livanos said in a television statement that Greece provided farmers with € 1 billion in aid last year, despite financial tightness.

This package includes 80% of the additional costs farmers face in electricity prices from August to December and subsidies to cover half of this cost in January and February. Fertilizer sales tax will be reduced by 46% to 13%.

However, the government’s actions were dismissed as “ridiculous” by farmers demanding higher electricity prices and more subsidies for gasoline.

“They haven’t solved the basic problem that we have to maintain farms and villages,” Tzelas said. “We are looking for substantive measures that will give us a real solution to our problem.”

Due to rising inflation and rising energy costs, the government announced Wednesday that it would cut its fixed asset tax rate by another 13%. This measure follows the 2 percent increase in the minimum wage announced last month.

Alexandros Avramidis, Vassilis Triandafyllou, Deborah Kyvrikosaios