Tobacco farmers take to the streets

Farmers talk to a police officer near Lamia, central Greece, where they met yesterday to protest against the European Commission’s decision to reduce funding to tobacco growers. About 100 farmers blocked traffic on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, with more protest action expected in the Agrinio area. The EU agriculture chief refused yesterday to bow to demands to prolong subsidies for tobacco growers as part of this week’s farm reform talks, saying there were other ways to cushion any financial pain. Eight major EU tobacco-producing countries, including Greece, have said they want existing subsidies extended to 2013, despite an agreement struck four years ago that will see the historic link between cash amount and production volume scrapped from 2010.