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Italian farmers block traffic in Milan as protests sweep across Europe

ITALIAN farmers blocked city traffic in Milan today as a convoy of tractors joined the latest protest with similar action seen in Poland, the Netherlands and elsewhere. 

“We are not slaves, we are farmers,” protesters said as they took to the roads in a number of Italian towns and cities including the capital Rome. 

They are part of a growing movement across Europe which was triggered by agricultural workers in the Netherlands who are waging a struggle against government regulations they warn will hit the industry hard.

Dutch farmers said that forcing them to cut their use of nitrogen fertiliser compounds will lead to a reduced number of their livestock and cause bankruptcy in family-owned businesses. 

Their action has seen supermarket shelves empty as tractors and agricultural machinery have blocked warehouses preventing the transport of vegetables and other goods. 

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has taken a hard-line approach mobilising security forces against them as part of an attempted crackdown. 

During a tractor blockade in Heerenven last week a 16-year-old boy was allegedly shot at by police as he tried to leave the protest. Investigations into the incident are underway. 

Italian farmers face an imminent crisis due to a severe drought that has seen a third of agricultural produce placed at risk. 

The country’s agricultural minister Steafano Patuanelli told parliament earlier this week that Italy faces a further 40 per cent loss of water resources in the coming decades. 

Farmers say they have lost around €3 billion as a result of the emergency and are being hit hard by rising fuel prices with costs rocketing as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. 

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