Greece promises extra aid for grieving farmers

Athens: Greece will extend a special tax rebate on agricultural diesel by a year, to support protesting farmers who demand lower energy costs and fast compensation for crops and livestock lost in destructive flooding, its prime minister said on Friday.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament that the measure would cost the state 82 million euros ($89.31 million) in 2024 and announced more steps to appease the protesters.

Farmers have been setting up blockades in central and northern Greece, echoing grievances from farmers across Europe, who have staged hundreds of tractors blockades in France and Brussels where EU leaders met on Thursday.

They have threatened to step up action, if the government fails to help them deal with higher energy prices and the growing impact of climate change. A group of them lined up their tractors in the northern city of Thessaloniki on Thursday, surrounding the Agrotica trade fair venue.

PPC, Greece’s biggest power utility, will also offer an extra 10% rebate on electricity for farmers from May to September, Mitsotakis, who met protesting farmers in central Greece this week, said.

Thousands of farmers in Thessaly, one of Greece’s breadbasket regions, saw swathes of crops and thousands of animals submerged in flood water, when two rainstorms within a few weeks of each other hit the area in September, killing 16 people.

It was the second major flood in three years to hit Thessaly, part of a pattern of worsening extreme weather in Europe.

Mitsotakis said that the state will spend in total 3.3 billion euros over the coming years to repair damage in Thessaly.