The countryside marched on Palma yesterday in support of the trotting and equestrian communities' call for financial help from the government and more economic assistance for agriculture. Over 500 people travelling on 300 assorted vehicles, from tractors to trotting carriages, descended on Palma to take part in a protest organised by the Balearic Trotting Federation and the Association of Horse Owners and Breeders. The demonstration was backed by the Association of Young Farmers and the Farmers Union, whose members feel they are getting a raw deal from local and central governments. The dispute between the countryside and the Balearic government has come to a head since the administration broke off from talks with the Council of Majorca which wanted to introduce a Lototrot betting system in Majorca. The island's first legal betting system was designed to raise extra funding for horse breeders and the countryside, but Balearic leader Francesc Antich, yesterday accused of killing the countryside, and his government broke off from talks, putting Lototrot on hold. Protest leaders were hoping to have been met by a member of the local government yesterday. The demonstrators marched on the Consolat del Mar government headquarters but there was nobody to receive them. President of the Balearic Trotting Federation, Andreu Artigues, said that the sector needs a form of definite financing, be it Lototrot or some other form of funding. Trotting helps support the farming sector, which is in serious difficulties - thanks to the regular competitions in the Balearics, there are some 6'000 horses which need to be fed and cared for which means jobs. Gabriel Roca, president of the Association of Horse Breeders and owners vowed that the protests will continue and that the countryside will keep fighting. Demonstrations were also carried out in Minorca and Ibiza yesterday. In Palma, traffic was brought to a halt along the sea front for most of the morning, but police reported that there were no incidents.
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