Farmers from across Belgium have descended on Brussels and Ghent in Belgium to protest this Thursday, saying that they are being regulated out of business.

Over 500 farmers are in Ghent protesting with thousands in Brussels.

In Ghent, the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU is hosting a symposium on agriculture, while leaders of the 27 member states meet in Brussels for an EU summit.

Irish Farmers Journal editor Jack Kennedy spoke to farmers in Ghent on Thursday morning.

They say they are protesting to object to European deals and EU policy, stating that some policies “are quite difficult to apply to daily farming”.

“They reduce our income. We produce quality food, safe food, it’s a very strict and well controlled and if we don’t produce it here, we need to buy it in other countries. Everything that is forbidden here will be used there [in other importing countries],” one farmer said.

Hendrick Vandamme, chair of the ABS farm organisation, told the Irish Farmers Journal that the protest is to make clear that farmers do not agree with EU policy.

“If we don’t make our point today or in the coming days and weeks, we don’t have a better opportunity than now,” he said.

“We hope that European people accept what we say on the CAP, it’s more becoming an environment policy, we have to continue doing our job.

“As farmers, we produce food. Every day, three times a day, people eat food. Morning, noon and evening we are on your plates.

“We want the Commission, Council and [European] Parliament to change their polices and point of view on agriculture.

“Eco schemes, green deal, nature restoration law - everything has an impact on agriculture and on farmers who live and work in [the] countryside,” he said.

He said that everything farmers have to do does not take account of the impact on their business.

“The economic elements of CAP are getting smaller and smaller and the [environment] is getting bigger and it’s impacting our income,” Vandamme said.

He said that farmers and policymakers agree that Europe needs clean air, clean water and good environment.

“We need clean air, we need clean water, we need healthy soils. But it’s the way it’s developed and in policies.

“The impact of all of these policies on farming has not been taken account of,” he said.


Less than half an hour away in Brussels, thousands of farmers have surrounded the European Parliament to protest.

As is the case in Ghent, they are protesting over bureaucracy, trade deals and EU regulations, which they say are impacting on their business and farm incomes.

Protesting farmers have blocked roads around the city, and have lit fires outside of EU buildings.