French sugar beet farmers will be in line for aid following a tractor protest in Paris last week.

The protest was in response to a decision by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in January which overturned a derogation given by the French government to beet growers allowing them to use seeds treated with neonicotinoids.

These products are said to be toxic to bees. However, beet farmers in France believe the use of these products is necessary for their sector.

According to French farming organisations, some 800 tractors and as many as 4,000 farmers descended on the capital last Wednesday (February 8), where they gathered at Les Invalides, one of France’s most recognisable landmarks.

The protest had the backing of the country’s leading farm organisation, the FNSEA, as well as organisations representing the sugar beet producing sector.

The protesters used the slogan “no bans without solutions”, in reference to the CJEU’s ruling, and farmers, tractors and vehicles could be seen carrying signs and banners with those words in French (“pas d’interdiction sans solutions”).

Following the protest, the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty announced the deployment of an action plan to support beet growers.

The aim of the plan is to guarantee sufficient beet production in France in 2023.

As part of the plan, an aid programme will be established for growers in the event of yield losses from beet diseases related to the lack of neonicotinoids.

The French government will request the activation of a European crisis measure, and is working with the European Commission to roll-out the aid system.

Other parts of the action plan include ensuring that the CJEU’s decision applies equally across the EU so that products treated with neonicotinoids cannot be imported into France.

New crop protection measures to replace neonicotinoid-based products will also be developed.

Furthermore, solutions that are already available will be deployed and accelerated.

As part of that, a monitoring mechanism for the management of viral reservoirs will be finalised by the beginning of March.