Belgian farmers choke off traffic arteries in fourth day of protests over their dire prospects


HALLE, Belgium (AP) — Farmers blocked more traffic arteries across Belgium on Wednesday as they sought to disrupt trade at major ports in a continued push for concessions to get better prices for their produce and less bureaucracy to do their work.

The rallies, now in their fourth day and part of farming protests across the European Union, have seen only a few hundred tractors snarl traffic across the nation of 11.5 million. Hundreds of thousands of Belgians have been facing disruptions and struggling to get to work, or saw their doctor’s appointments cancelled because of the protests.

The farmers also plan to protest outside EU headquarters during Thursday’s summit of government leaders. In neighboring France, protesting farmers have showered government offices with manure and besieged Paris with traffic-snarling barricades of tractors and hay bales

Despite the widespread inconveniences, the government of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is treating protests, which have been mostly peaceful, with extreme caution.

“It is important that we listen to them,” De Croo said. “They face gigantic challenges,” from adapting to climate change and countering environmental pollution, he said.

Belgium currently holds the EU presidency and De Croo said that he would address the issue during the summit as a late addition to an agenda centered on providing aid to Ukraine, after Russia’s invasion nearly two years ago.

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