Athens — Angry Greek farmers are demanding the government follow through on promises to compensate them for income lost following a spate of severe weather last year. The farmers have taken to the streets to vent their frustrations.
Angry farmers are protesting rising inflation, foreign competition and the growing costs of combating climate change.
Dumping mounds of chestnuts and apples on the pavement of an agricultural fair, tens of thousands of farmers took to the streets in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki over the weekend, rejecting as their leaders put it, tax breaks, and a string of other relief measures introduced by the government in Athens.
“These handouts are crumbs,” said Rizos Maroudas, one of the protest leaders. “The government may be playing tough, but farmers will prove tougher.”
Agriculture associations in Thessaly, the farming heartland of Greece, are scheduled to meet Tuesday to escalate protests, including setting up blockades across the country’s main highways.
Much of the farmers’ demands echo similar protests that have been gripping Europe for weeks now. But in Greece, farmers want the government to deliver on promises made months ago: compensation for thousands of crops and livestock destroyed in deadly floods and rainstorms that battered the farming heartland in September.
In a rash of measures recently announced, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the state would settle farmers’ overdue power and water bills, and that a tax rebate of diesel fuel would be extended for another year.
“This is all the funding the federal budget can provide at this time,” said government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis. “If we could offer more we would. But we don’t want to make phony promises,” he added.
The government has called on farmers to return to the negotiating table to seek a compromise solution with the prime minister himself.
Greece’s farmers have snubbed the offer, saying they have no time to spare for what they call a “photo-op.”