ATHENS (Reuters) – Hundreds of Greek farmers, some on tractors, protested in Athens on Friday, demanding more tax cuts and subsidies to combat high fuel and fertilizer prices that have risen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The farmers, who protested high energy prices for weeks earlier this year, say their costs are so high that they will be forced to produce less and also raise prices for consumers.
The government has spent about 3.7 billion euros ($4.08 billion) so far since September to alleviate the pain of rising energy and fuel costs for farmers, households and businesses.
It cut the sales tax on fertilizers by 46% to 13% and announced Thursday it would be cut further to 6%, and also announced a tax cut on agricultural vehicle fuel.
Farmers say the measures do not go far enough and that everything from fuel to animal feed has become too expensive.
“Our very survival is really at stake this year,” said one protester, Giorgos Laoutis. “With the cost of production, electricity, agricultural supplies, fuel.”
Farmers from all over Greece took part in the rally. Some protesters hung black flags from shepherd’s crooks or sticks.
“The situation has become unbearable,” said another farmer, Diamanto Kritikou.
“We can’t farm our fields, we can’t cultivate, we can’t put gas in our vehicles, and (we can’t buy seeds) fertilizers…there will be a problem with the food supply in the country,” she said.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed retail gasoline and diesel prices to record highs.
Russia is also a major producer of potassium, phosphate and nitrogen fertilizers and a leader in fertilizer exports, accounting for 13% of world production.
This month, the Ministry of Trade and Industry ordered the country’s fertilizer producers to temporarily suspend exports.
As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, the United Nations food agency said last week that international food and feed prices could rise by up to 20%.
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