Hit by high costs, Greek farmers stage tractor protest

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Holding up vegetables and black flags, hundreds of protesting farmers blocked traffic in central Athens on Friday to demand that the government grant them additional concessions to cope with high energy costs.

The protesters, some in tractors, gathered outside the Agriculture Ministry in Athens and were planning to head to parliament in the center of the capital.

Farming associations say they were largely left out of a 1.1 billion-euro ($1.21 billion) financial support package announced earlier this week by the center-right government to help struggling businesses and lower-income households.

Huge rises in energy costs have hit farmers who have passed many of the increases on to food prices, as inflation reached 6.3% in February and an average of 5.9% among countries that share the euro currency.

Earlier this year, farming associations across the country staged protests with tractors along Greece’s highways, but didn’t carry out threats to set up roadblocks.

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