Sunday, 31 July 2011

Farmers Cause Traffic Chaos in Saône-et-Loire

We read in Friday’s paper that 60 tractors had travelled through Saône-et-Loire, grinding the traffic to a halt on Tuesday and Thursday this week. They were escorted by police motorbikes, intent on minimising the inconvenience to other road users, but with such a huge convoy travelling approximately 350 km over normal roads at little more than 30km/hr, the tailbacks were very long indeed, up to km in some places. Fortunately they didn't travel through Cormatin !

Nothing new I thought, obviously the farmers are on the warpath again against something or other, costs too high, income too low, subsidies disappearing, you name it they protest about it. Having lived in Kent for a number of years I got quite sick and tired of the amount of times my route to work (the M20) was used as a parking lot for lorries unable to get on the ferries due to yet another blockade or go-slow on the French side. What intrigued me though, as this is nothing special, why did the local newspaper dedicate a half page article to it?

Actually, this time it was something very special indeed. The terrible drought that has hit France and in particular this area and into l’Ain (the département to the south of us) has left milk producers and other cattle farmers with no feed at all for their animals. Many cows are being sent to slaughter early and even some milking cows are being destroyed as their owners cannot find feed any more. The cereal growing area of Seine-et-Marne 350 km to the north, heard the call for help and have offered their straw. So 60 farmers travelled for a day with empty trailers, spent a day loading at various farms and spent another day returning to their farms with hopefully enough straw to tide them over.

On the return route, as news spread of the convoy, the roads were lined in places with people who had come out specially to be witness to the event. It is not every day something like this happens.

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