5 Fascinating (But Not Necessarily Advisable) Protests by Farmers


When most of us think of a typical protest, images of cowboy hats and tractors don’t generally come to mind. But, farmers have definitely played a role in shaping public policy (or at least garnering some attention) through protests.

1. Cows Against TPP

Cows, milk, farmers and tractors hit the streets of Ottawa this week — only days after Quebec farmers hit Montreal — to protest trade negotiations surrounding dairy in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The farmers have certainly received mainstream attention already:


2. The Urban Lagoon

French farmers hit the streets in July and September, to protest falling food prices. The most recent protest hit Paris, with over 1000 tractors and reports of traffic backed up 60km in areas. July protests saw farmers blockading roads from Germany and Spain, preventing hundreds of food trucks from entering the country. They ransacked food trucks, dumped manure in the streets, burned tires on major roads and sprayed straw on cars. The French government gave in to provide emergency tax relief and loan guarantees, but unrest in the country continues.

3. A Sheepish City of Lovers

France hits the list again. This time, with the 2014 protest of wolf predation on sheep flocks. Some media outlets reported up to 300 sheep grazing beneath the Eiffel Tower, while their owners protested the protection of wolves, saying compensating farmers for losses is a waste of money. 

 4. Brussels Sprouts with Ag Turmoil

An extension of the frustration expressed over falling food prices in France, the September protests in Brussels made mainstream news largely thanks to the use of tear gas and water cannons by police in the city. The thousands of farmers were far from innocent, throwing eggs, firecrackers, stones and straw at anti-riot police  The European Union released emergency funds as a result of the protests.

5. Jail Time

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also include the protest by thirteen Canadian farmers who challenged laws by crossing the U.S. border with grain in the 1990s — in the time of the Canadian Wheat Board. The handcuffs came out in Lethbridge in 2002, and ten years on, all were pardoned by Prime Minister Harper.

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