Ongoing protests by some winemakers in Occitanie culminated in an explosion in Carcassonne. On the night of January 19, 2024, the ground floor of the Regional Directorate for Environment, Planning, and Housing (DREAL) was blown up and destroyed. According to several French media reports, no one was injured. The militant group of French wine producers known as Comité d’action viticole (CAV) claimed responsibility for the attack and left a message on a fence.
The background to this incident is the frustration of many French winegrowers who are grappling with the economic repercussions of climate change, poor harvests, declining wine sales, an oversupply of red wines, and geopolitical influences. Additionally, the DREAL oversees the implementation of government policies related to environmental protection, sustainability, and biodiversity in the region, which, given the increased production costs, is reportedly upsetting local winegrowers. Since the fall of 2023, many winemakers have been protesting in hopes of receiving assistance from the government.
"We must distinguish between impactful actions and violent actions. Violence, wherever it comes from, cannot be a means of action. The matter has been brought to court, and I hope the perpetrators are found."
The incident occurred despite an announced visit by Minister of Agriculture Marc Fesneau to Hérault on February 2, where he plans to provide an update on temporary clearing and emergency funding, as well as present the progress made in European negotiations on restructuring. These measures, promised as early as November 2023, are anticipated to come into effect in 2024, in accordance with the Minister's commitment—a promise that was likely reaffirmed during the recent government reshuffle.
Violence is not a solution
Many winemakers feel that progress has been too slow. Jérôme Despey, President of the Chamber of Agriculture in Hérault, emphasized that the sector's goals include short-term liquidity support that leaves no one behind and the suspension of bank fees for loans. Despey, who is also the Vice President of the National Federation of Farmers' Unions (FNSEA), continues to advocate for an increase in the emergency fund approved by parliamentarians in late 2023. Currently, the wine sector is allocated €20m and is requesting a restructuring to €80m to consolidate its economic distress.
The Ministry of Agriculture condemned the violence in Carcassonne. The Minister stated, "We must distinguish between impactful actions and violent actions. Violence, wherever it comes from, cannot be a means of action. The matter has been brought to court, and I hope the perpetrators are found." ITP