Around three thousand Apulian farmers and 150 tractors rallied in Bari in protest against the governments lack of measures for farmers and are appealing for support from regional and national authorities. Damaging frosts from last year and the plant pathogen xylella has caused a significant loss of crops for farmers. Protesters were calling for recognition of the state of calamity over €100 million to compensate for the loss of production.
A spokesman for the orange vests Onofrio Spagnoletti Zeuli said: “Here there are over three thousand people, men and women who have been stripping themselves of any identity and marrying the cause of the earth.”
Frosts in March 2018 damaged approximately 90 thousands hectares in Bari-Bat and Foggia. This was described as a disastrous situation and one that could bring the entire agricultural sector to its knees.
The plant pathogen xylella is a growing concern for farmers in the Bari region, which the orange vests want to eradicate.
They also asked to restore the role of the Olive Producer Organisations (PO) to protect and enhance agricultural supply chains.
Apulia farmers said they believe they should be trusted to manage phases related to xylella like monitoring, training, information and technical assistance.
While it seems the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in France influenced the idea of orange vests in Italy, the farmers protests did not turn violent as recently seen in France.
Last weekend marked the eighth consecutive weekend of demonstrations in France which have claimed ten lives since mid-November.
The rebellion started as protests against diesel taxes and cost of living but spiralled out of control into an assault on President Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.
It recently emerged Italy’s populist leaders support France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters and urged them not to weaken as an insult to Macron.
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on his Five Star Movement party blog that the protesters should not weaken their stance.
Showing his support for the movement Mr Di Maio said: “Yellow vests, do not weaken!
His co-Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said: “I support honest citizens protesting against a president who governs against his people.”