Thousands of farmers in Germany have taken to their tractors blocking cities and roads protesting against government farm subsidy cuts.
Truck drivers are also supporting the farmers by joining the long convoys of tractors in a united approach to send a strong message to the German government.
Cities such as Munich, Hamburg, Bremen and Cologne have been brought to a standstill by the farmers, making this one of the biggest protest actions they have ever taken.
The main crux of the issue involves the government’s plans to eventually phase out tax incentives for diesel fuel used in agriculture as well as a car tax exemption for vehicles used in agriculture.
Germany’s 3-party coalition government is trying to claw back huge coffers of money to try and fill a €17 billion (US$18.6 billion) hole in its budget for 2024. However, the German Farmers Association planned a week of protests across the country to make the farmers’ voices heard.
From 8-12 January 2024, farmers and the transport industries are expressing their united dissatisfaction with the federal government’s budget spending across Germany with demonstrations and rallies. Nationwide, over 100 protests are taking place in all federal states to warn the population and politicians against jeopardising the competitiveness and existence of farmers and medium-sized transport companies.
In order to ensure agriculture remains competitive, financial support for agricultural diesel and vehicle tax exemption are essential to German farmers and those across Europe. The German Farmers’ Association, together with the state farmers’ associations and LsV Germany, has called for the federal government’s planned tax increases for agriculture to be withdrawn.
Following the first day of protests, president of the German Farmers’ Association, Joachim Rukwied, said: “That was a successful start to our joint week of action. Today, with around 100,000 tractors across Germany, farmers sent a clear signal to the federal government to completely withdraw its tax increase plans. The demos went off in an orderly manner. This shows that our farmers care. The support of large parts of the population for our cause was also clearly visible on the streets today.”
This is the latest protest by farmers across Europe and indeed colleagues from other European countries including the Netherlands, Romania, Belgium, France, Poland and Austria have also travelled to Germany to take part.
In 2023, farmers across the Netherlands took to the streets protesting against government plans to force the agricultural industry to cut its emissions.
Many European farm lobby groups have consistently said their EU politicians are losing interest in agriculture and are trying at every opportunity to target farmers financially and with more red tape.
The UK officially left the European Union in 2020 via Brexit to reduce the dominance of EU regulations across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Threats by other EU countries to also leave the EU continue to emerge but with no direct action to date.