“Overly ambitious” EU Green Deal timelines and “farmer machinery subsidies” are the key issues driving agricultural contractors to participate in farmer protests across Europe, the European Confederation of Agricultural, Rural, and Forestry Contractors (CEETTAR) has warned.

While the organisation, which represents about 150,000 companies and 600,000 workers in 20 member states, is “totally against” protesting with violence, secretary general Jérôme Roche says major progress on green targets “won’t be achieved” without ensuring farm contractors remain viable across the bloc.

He cautioned policymakers that bringing safe and efficient alternative machinery and products to market “takes time,” insisting the Commission’s 2030 pathways “should be slowed down”.

He called for a ban on EU farmer subsidies to purchase new machinery – which agricultural contractors cannot access unless they too are farmers – claiming the model “has artificially increased” machinery prices and piled pressure on contractor businesses.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, the French native who has led CEETTAR since 2018, said: “Contractors are part of the agricultural family. We stand for the farmer, but there are ways and means to do it. I totally understand that farmers are not paid enough for what they do, but on the other side you cannot go against the Green Deal. This is history, we must cope with it.”


“Agricultural contractors are a major part of the chain and have demonstrated, for example, that we can use very innovative spraying techniques for pesticides to select precisely where to spread, the way to spread, how much to spread. Contractors are presenting solutions.

“But we can’t achieve our potential on current timelines. Aiming for 2030 is far too ambitious and should be slowed down; 2050 for first steps could be achievable.

“For example, Bayer, the chemical firm, is developing some very sustainable products, but just to have a product on the market takes seven years for authorisation.

“They hope to have it available in 2027, that would be major progress.

“In the long term, these are all new business opportunities for contractors and we’re ready to challenge the future, but we must be properly supported.”

Banks could also do much more to finance contractors with market money, real loans, to sustain their business

Asked about CEETTAR demands to sustain the sector, Roche called for a stop to machinery subsidies and more flexibility from European banks.

“Subsidising the purchase of machinery artificially increases the price of the machine. Machinery producers are not dumb. They know exactly that if you get a subsidy, they will increase their price.”

“Of course, there are other factors including inflation due to the war in Ukraine, but the issue is EU-wide. The reality is, contractors are much better equipped and skilled than farmers to do the work, plus we have more aging farmers, so they will increasingly need to hire the service of contractors.

“The sector is slowly growing; around 3% per year. This is good and must be built upon.

“As an alternative we’ve proposed that Europe should give a voucher to farmers for when they hire the service of contractors using innovative systems that benefit the environment.

“So instead of giving money to farmers for them to buy machinery, they should instead give them extra money to hire the service of contractors.

“Banks could also do much more to finance contractors with market money, real loans, to sustain their business. This is something which must be explored.”