Czech farmers threaten four-day Prague protest with 1,000+ tractors

Frustrated by state and EU agricultural policy, Czech farmers say they will wreak havoc on the city's main streets on Monday, Feb. 19.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 09.02.2024 10:30:00 (updated on 09.02.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Farmers in the Czech Republic are planning a major protest ride to Prague on Monday, Feb. 19, which may feature 1,000 tractors blocking the Czech capital’s major roads for several days. Led by the Association of Independent Trade Unions (ASO), the disgruntled farmers call for a change in EU-level agricultural policy and demand the state listen to their concerns.

Part of an EU-wide movement

Farmers are currently protesting across Europe – particularly so in France, Spain, Germany, and Poland – due to rising production costs, higher taxes, excessive environmental rules, more bureaucracy, and the recent emergence of cheap imports. Czech farmers are also feeling disgruntled, with small-scale protests already ongoing in towns and villages, such as those in Liberec Thursday.

Chairman of the agricultural holding Rabbit and former president of the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic Zdeněk Jandejsek, who is the protest’s co-organizer, told Novinky.cz: “It will be a big protest. We will have Malostranské náměstí occupied for four days; we expect that 1,000 or more tractors will arrive.”

An online initiative on the pro-farmers Myzemedelci.cz website has presented several demands, including the current government's resignation. However, Jandejsek emphasizes that the main issue at hand is the government's involvement in the Green Deal" – an agreement that aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

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Farmers not getting enough money

"It [the Green Deal] is a disaster and the Agrarian Chamber is not doing anything about it," said Jandejsek. "When the government accedes to our demand, there will be peace for a while. If not, we will strike like [in] Germany,” he added.

ASO head Bohumír Dufek says that issues such as poorly set subsidy policies, the energy crisis in the Czech Republic, Czechia’s support of the Green Deal, and cheap agriculture imports present in the past two years have caused farmers to reaching boiling point.

Minister of Agriculture Marek Výborný wants to negotiate with representatives of farmers. "I respect their right to express their opinion, but things are better agreed at the negotiating table than on the streets,” he said earlier this week.

Not all unionists are on board, though

Výborný also mentioned that Jandejsek represents a group that operates on the disinformation scene and is not open to debate. However, he acknowledges that some of the issues raised by farmers are valid, such as the excessive amount of administration and bureaucracy in the industry.

Agricultural unions, including the Agrarian Chamber and the Agricultural Union of the Czech Republic, are distancing themselves from the protests. They have decided to postpone any nationwide protests until March 1, 2024, in hopes of reaching a solution with the government. However, if no agreement is reached, they are prepared to join in on the demonstrations.

The Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (ČMKOS) is also distancing itself from the upcoming protest. "Nobody contacted or consulted us. I have not been informed about the protests either by the organizers or by anyone else," said union chief Josef Středula.

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