France: Ministry fights against Agri-bashing

Logo of Task-force "DEMETER", Source: Ministre de l’Intérieur, France

The number of attacks and assaults on farmers in France is increasing rapidly. The French government is now developing countermeasures, creation of task-force

The cultivation of food is connected with increasingly expensive and elaborate technical material. Today, the fleet of a large farmer is worth millions of euros. This brings up numerous thieves. Farmers have been suffering from rising crime for years. In recent years and months, climate and animal rights activists have also appeared on the scene as a more recent development. They perpetrate attacks, break into farms and disseminate their dubious and illegally acquired knowledge in social networks. The French Ministry of the Interior has now begun to set up a special investigation team. It bears the name “Demeter”. Its tasks include raising awareness and training potentially affected farmers.

Created at October, 3 by the general directorate of the national gendarmerie, the “National cell for monitoring damage to the agricultural world” (DEMETER cell) is intended to provide a global and coordinated response to all the issues affecting the agricultural world. The need to understand the whole phenomenon of damage to the agricultural environment implies that the scope of competence of the DEMETER Unit includes prevention and monitoring of villainous acts, whether it is a crime of proximity and opportunity or of organized or even international crime. The task force is intended to monitor actions of an ideological nature, too, whether they are simple symbolic actions to denigrate the agricultural milieu up to harsh actions having repercussions on persons or material.

At the moment at least one tractor is stolen every day in France. Since 1 January 2019, attacks on the agricultural environment have increased (+1.5%). A more in-depth study reveals significant geographical disparities and the emergence of targeted phenomena (theft of agricultural equipment). The renewed attention of professionals in the sector to the risks to which they are exposed is increasing as a result of the increase in security audits and consultations carried out (+22.4% or 333 audits and consultations).

The protests of the farmers in autumn 2019 had seized the whole of Europe and are increasing in severity. At the end of November in Germany , 40,000 farmers demonstrated in the capital Berlin. It remains to be seen whether such task-forces, such as DEMETER in France, will contribute to calming the situation.