The economic conditions facing French farmers is causing them to increasingly become attracted the more nationalistic policies of French politician Marine Le Pen, who is drawing international attention due to her policies that somewhat reflect those of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Bloomberg reported that farmers in France are facing their deepest crisis since World War II and that could have a significant impact on the French vote in April.
France has a primary in April then a runoff between the top two candidates on May 7.
Le Pen, the candidate for the right wing National Front party, wants to close France's borders from immigration and potentially pull out of the European Union as well. Most analysis from Europe suggests she will be one of the top two candidates to make it to the runoff, reflecting that a strong number of her countrymen share her views.
As Bloomberg reported, French farmers and the rural countryside, "la France profonde," or deep France, could be the key to Le Pen's support. Farmers are struggling with Russian sanctions and European Union efforts to lift production quotas. EU lifted the quotas, farmers ramped up production of products such as milk and pork, then crashed the markets because the exports weren't there to take the extra production elsewhere.
"Farm income fell on average 15 percent in 2016, the agriculture ministry says, back to its levels of 2013. The total value of French agricultural production fell 7 percent to 69.2 billion euros ($74.3 billion) last year and the number of livestock-farm failures hit a record," Bloomberg reported.
The farm crisis has hit France's leading agricultural region particularly hard.
“The FN proposals are rubbish,” said Thierry Coue, a Breton pig farmer in the village of Treal who raises 400 sows. “We can’t shut ourselves off. We export too.” But he said he understands the confusion many farmers feel. “Farmers feel so lost, there will inevitably a splintering-up of votes.”
Le Pen has been making the rounds with conservative American politicians. U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, posted a Twitter shot of himself with Le Pen and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., earlier this week.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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