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More than fifty farmers and concerned citizens have occupied the European Commission department responsible for agriculture this afternoon, demanding an end to EU-US talks on a transatlantic free trade deal (TTIP). On the eve of the latest negotiation round in New York on 20 April, they are demanding to see Zoltan Somogyi, the co-lead negotiator on agriculture.

"TTIP – as well as its little brother CETA – will have a devastating impact on small farmers and our food on both sides of the Atlantic." said Jose-Miguel Pacheco, member of the European Coordination of Via Campesina. "Our position is very clear: the promotion of industrial farming and GMOs is undermining our struggle for an alternative food system. That’s why we’re here to tell Zoltan Somogyi that all of these free trade treaties need to end."

The occupation is part of the International Day of Peasant Struggle, organised annually by Via Campesina, and the day before the Global Day of Action to Defeat Trade and Investment Treaties, on April 18. It was preceded by a tour of the European Quarter, highlighting how the trade talks are being driven by big agribusiness.

"Right from the outset, the European Commission has been championing the interests of big business, granting privileged access to agribusiness and food and drinks industry representatives." said Nina Holland of Corporate Europe Observatory, a member of D1920. "The Commission is completely ignoring the voices of farmers and citizens."

As well as demanding an end to the negotiations, those occupying DG AGRI are also launching their own citizens' public consultation in situ, making up for the fact that 92% of all meetings and consultations carried out by the Commission have been with big business.

"The Commission refuses to listen to ordinary people, but the noise we're making – here in Brussels and across Europe - is becoming impossible to ignore." said Myriam Djegham of MOC (Mouvement Ouvrier Chrétien), a member of D19-20. "Those  assembled in DG AGRI are making it clear they reject these unjust and untransparent free trade deals, and tomorrow thousands will be taking to the streets around the world to make our message louder and clearer."

The action kicks off a weekend of events organised by D19-20, Tout Autre Chose, Hart Boven Hard and Les Acteurs des Temps Present.

D19-20 - 17 April 2015