Angry farmers block Colruyt logistics centre over 'land grab'

Angry farmers block Colruyt logistics centre over 'land grab'
Credit: Belga

Around 60 farmers gathered on Friday in front of Colruyt’s logistics centre in Ollignies to denounce the company’s land purchase policy. The action was initiated by the Federation of Young Farmers (FJA).

Farmers drove a column of tractors to the plant near Lessines in Hainaut at around 11:00 with the aim of blocking it for several hours. About fifteen other tractors also gathered in front of the distribution centre in Ghislenghien.

“Colruyt wants to acquire several thousand hectares of land and is prepared to pay crazy sums, sometimes exceeding €100,000/ha”, the FJA stated. “The first victims are obviously young farmers, who see essential land become unattainable.”

Colruyt claims that it is purchasing hundreds of hectares and not thousands. A study by the news website Apache reported that 175 hectares had been bought by the group in recent years. The company also disputes the price mentioned by the FJA, stating that it respects market prices, governed by supply and demand.

The FJA also denounces the misleading communication of the Colruyt group. According to the federation, the retailer takes advantage of the good image of farmers when it suits the company but contributes to the poor remuneration of farmers by putting pressure on prices.

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The United Federation of Farmers’ and Breeders’ Groups (Fugea), the farmers’ union, welcomed the mobilisation of FJA in a statement on Thursday, recalling that it had itself carried out a similar action in December.

“A new action is being taken against the group, this time at the call of the Federation of Young Farmers. We regret it because we had agreed to meet them next Tuesday, together with the Walloon Federation of Agriculture, in order to answer their questions and reassure them of our commitment to them,” reacted Colruyt.

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