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VEDRIN (Belgium): Angry farmers on Sunday blocked a major motorway in Belgium, part of a growing movement of discontent across Europe that has sparked disruption and violence in France and Germany.

Driving dozens of tractors at a crawl through a key interchange, farmers stopped traffic on the E42 motorway just north of Namur in the south of the country.

Belgian and union flags were pinned to some tractors, as well as a banner reading: “If we die, you will starve”, and “a childhood dream has become a nightmare.” Farmers protesting outside a football stadium on Sunday also delayed a Belgian top flight match between FC Genk and Sint-Truiden by 30 minutes.

It has become “impossible to earn a decent wage,” said Pierre d’Hulst, spokesman for the FJA federation of young farmers, which organised the go-slow protest.

“We are calling for a common agricultural policy that takes into account the reality on the ground,” d’Hulst told AFP.

“Farmers have to do more with fewer resources. We’re prepared to make an effort but we need to be able to live decently,” he added.

In addition, he said that his members were in unfair competition with exported goods that do not have to conform to the same strict environmental standards.

The protest was part of a weekend of action. On Saturday, farmers drove some 100 tractors around the ring road in the southern city of Mons, which is holding its first festival of lights.

The farmers complain that European legislation is throttling their business, that inflation is eroding their living standards, and that cheaper imports are destroying competitiveness.

“Europe keeps squeezing, pressing and crushing farmers ... it is time to re-evaluate the work of those who feed our citizens every day,” said the FWA farmers union on its website.

Throughout Europe, farmers’ anger has boiled over, especially in France, where agricultural unions have vowed to mount a “siege” on Paris to pressure the government on pay, tax, and regulations.

They intend to block all the major roads to the French capital and blockade the huge Rungis wholesale food market to the south of the city.

Protests have also mushroomed in Germany, Poland, Romania, and the Netherlands, as the EU scrambles to address concerns ahead of elections this year amid a rise in far-right support.

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