Greek Farmers Protest Austerity Cuts

Greek FarmersAbout 2,000 farmers from across Greece gathered in central Athens on March 5 to rally in front of the Parliament and protest of harsh austerity policies they said have cut into their ability to make a living.

The protesters, some of whom came from as far as Crete, first gathered before the Agriculture Ministry to stand against tax reforms introduced by the government.

“The problem is that we no longer make enough money to support our families,” Panagiotis Giogas, a peach and asparagus farmer from the northern town of Pella told the Associated Press. “We are taxing everything now. It takes a month’s income just to fill up the tractor with gasoline,” said Giogas, who joined the peaceful rally. “My father and grandfather worked the same land that I do. But farmers will have to sell their land.”

The protesters, who staged a month-long nationwide mobilization in February, briefly blocking national highways with their tractors to make their requests heard, took the streets of the Greek capital this time, chanting slogans with their demands.

A series of tax exemptions have been scrapped for farmers under the latest reforms that took effect this year and were demanded by the Eurozone and International Monetary Fund in exchange for rescue loans that have kept the country afloat for nearly three years. Some farmers though have been criticized for accepting EU subsidies and not using them to provide crops.