Exposición de agricultura: los organizadores no quieren ni “aprovechamiento” político, ni visitantes en estado de embriaguez

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The organizers of the 60th International Agricultural Show, which starts on February 24, called on Tuesday the political leaders not to engage in an easy *”appropriation of the agricultural malaise”* and urged visitors to moderate their alcohol consumption. After a show of force by the agricultural world, expressing deep anger over the working conditions, and despite isolated calls for boycott, the Agricultural Show will once again take place at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris for ten days (February 24-March 3).

The event, which expects 600,000 visitors, has been cited by the majority unions FNSEA and Young Farmers as a deadline in their standoff with the government. They are awaiting, before its opening, the realization of initial commitments made in the urgency of the crisis, to obtain the lifting of the farmers’ blockades.

*”I’m not afraid of a heated show, I believe in a studious show,”* stated its president, Jean-Luc Poulain, during a press conference. *”Farmers have shown in the recent union actions that they can be responsible.

It is also one of the keys to the success of the movement in the eyes of public opinion,”* he added. *“It’s a proud moment for farmers to be able to welcome all the people of Paris and those who come to see with their children, their family,”* he stated.

The Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, on the other hand, stated on Tuesday, during the press conference, that this show will be a *“moment (…) of a restored confidence”* with the farmers. Jean-Luc Poulain hopes that the political leaders, who generally come in numbers to the show, especially approaching a deadline such as the European elections in June, will not engage in *“an easy appropriation of the agricultural malaise, but rather bring exchanges and solutions beyond their own political interests.”* *“We know very well why certain people come to the blockades, or come to the farms,”* he continued.

The agricultural crisis that erupted in January has seen the National Rally present itself as the *“voice of the countryside”* and denounce *“Macron’s Europe”* that wants *“the death of our agriculture.”* Before being a political appointment, the show is a popular event, where city dwellers and rural residents gather around a flagship cow – this year the Normande Oreillette – pâté, and beer barrels. It sometimes takes on the appearance of a fair.

Last year, the organizers had to call for the preservation of this *“great popular festival”* from alcohol excesses. They also closed the show early on the last Saturday for security reasons due to the influx of visitors.

The organizers plan to encourage visitors *“to come on weekdays”* rather than on weekends and are going to *“step up”* in preventing excessive drunkenness to maintain a *“calm and friendly show”*, explained Valérie Le Roy, the event’s director. *“We reserve the right to close the stand”* of an exhibitor who continues to serve visibly drunk visitors despite warnings, she described.

The Agricultural Show has been held annually in Paris since 1964, except in 2021, when it was canceled due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The event is owned by the National Center for Agricultural Exhibitions and Competitions (Ceneca), made up of major agricultural organizations, including the investment fund Unigrains, founded by French cereal growers, the FNSEA, and its association of sugar beet growers, CGB.

To succeed Jean-Luc Poulain, for whom this is the 15th and final show, the only declared candidate is Jérôme Despey, the *“Mr. Wine”* of the FNSEA, the first vice president of the majority union.

He explained to AFP that if elected, it will not be *“on behalf of the FNSEA”* but to *“represent all components of agriculture.”* However, he will also maintain his functions within the majority union in parallel.

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