Tractors of protesting farmers line Strasse des 17. Juni street in front of the Brandenburg Gate on the first day of a week of protests on January 08, 2024 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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German farmers sow seeds of revolt in subsidy-cuts protests


Farmers across Germany started a planned week-long protest en masse against the Government’s plans for cutbacks.

The demonstration by thousands of tractor-driving workers began on January 8, blocking roads and leading to traffic chaos, against the planned gradual abolition of a subsidy on agricultural diesel by Berlin.

On a wider level, they argue that the Government is unfairly meddling in how farmers operate while attracting huge subsidies just as agricultural profit margins are increasingly declining, leading to an unsustainable situation for many.

Farmers use their tractors to block roads on the first day of a planned week of protests on January 8 in Bonn, Germany. One sign reads: “The Green ideology forces us farmers on our knees.” (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
“Ideology does not fill your bellies,” reads another slogan. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Getty Images)
A banner hangs on a tractor in Berlin, Germany. (EPA-EFE/Filip Singer)

Many farmers believe the root cause of their problems lies in large part with the increasingly prevalent “green” ideology, which they say has been unfairly targeting their sector for some years.

In such green circles, farming has been associated with detrimental environmental effects, such as high emissions and a reduction in biodiversity.

The 2020 European Green Deal, designed to make the European Union the world’s first “climate-neutral bloc” by 2050, was originally created in Brussel.

Since then farmers say they are the ones taking the brunt and insist the European plans need to be toned down.

Despite their protestations, many EU governments continue to work on green plans that usually involve a reduction in the number of farms operating, among other agricultural strictures.

In the farmers’ protest, pictures taken against traffic lights can bee seen to refer to the “traffic-light” German Government of Socialists (red), Liberals (yellow) and Greens. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
A truck in the protest carries a banner reading: “Stand up.” (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Getty Images)
“Get rid of the traffic lights before the lights go out everywhere,” reads another placard at the demonstrations. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Getty Images)
“How much longer will imbeciles govern our country?” and “Without agriculture, everything is dead,” protestors’ signs read. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Getty Images)
A tractor carries a placard reading: “Not our government.” (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Getty Images)
A woman walks past past a banner that reads: “The traffic light must go!” (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Protests are due to go on all week, resulting in further widespread traffic disruption, unrest and blockades across Germany.

Günther Felßner, the Vice President of the German Farmers’ Association (DVB), threatened that if the Government’s proposals were not withdrawn by January 15, “We are ready to paralyse the country like Germany has never seen before.”

A banner on a tractor reads: “When the farmer is ruined, the food will be imported.” (Photo by Craig Stennett/Getty Images)
Other signs read: “Enough is enough,” and “Agrarians think in generations, not in electoral periods.” (Photo by Craig Stennett/Getty Images)
“First the farmer dies, then the land,” states this banner. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Farmers’ vehicles block 17 Juni Street in Berlin on January 8. (EPA-EFE/Filip Singer)

The protests by German farmers echo what happened in the Netherlands last year, where outraged agricultural workers also blockaded roads in a demonstration that was the latest in a series since 2019.