The demonstrators fear that the German government's austerity measures will force farms to close
Farmers from all over Germany flocked to Berlin with their tractors on Monday, protesting against government plans to cut diesel subsidies and tax breaks on agricultural vehicles. Berlin recently announced austerity measures planned for 2024, in line with efforts to combat a multi-billion-euro budget deficit.
Angry farmers blocked the central street near the Brandenburg Gate, carrying banners with the words: “Your policy is a declaration of war on farmers.” And “Enough is enough!” Protesters fear the planned budget cuts will make Germany's agricultural sector nearly 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) worse off next year. According to the Berlin Police Department, about 1,700 tractors and 6,600 farmers participated in the protest.
The German Farmers' Association (DBV) and the Land Lobby Create Connection (LsV) threatened to expand demonstrations if austerity measures were implemented. DBV president Joachim Rokoed warned at the rally against this “Starting January 8, we will be present everywhere in a way the country has never seen before. “We will not accept this.”
Speaking to ARD during the protest, German Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir said farmers did just that “There is no alternative” To diesel.
“I don't isolate myself from having to save, but it has to be done in a way that we take people with us – and it is the farmers who provide us with food.” Ozdemir said. “These cuts… are burdening the sector.”
Berlin was forced to plug a hole in its budget after a Constitutional Court ruling in November declared an attempt to reallocate 60 billion euros ($65.7 billion) of unused Covid-19 funding unconstitutional.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government faced a choice between suspending what is known as the debt brake (which limits the government deficit to 0.35% of GDP) or creating about 17 billion euros ($18.6 billion) in savings and tax cuts.
Foreign Minister Stephen Hebstreit said on Monday that decisions on the 2024 budget had already been finalized and would not be reopened, although details of its implementation were still being considered.
You can share this story on social media: