Angry German farmers back to the streets

Henry

Angry farmers took to the streets of Berlin again on Monday over the German government’s plans to cut agricultural subsidies.

The farmers used tractors to block roads nationwide and dump manure on the streets.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting since last month over the planned cut in agricultural subsidies, a move that has already given rise to several paralyzing strikes nationwide and plunged the country deeper into unrest.

The disruptions it has caused have already forced the government to abandon some of its plans.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said last week that a rebate on vehicle tax for agricultural machinery will be maintained and that tax rebates on fuel for the same vehicles will not be completely suspended, but gradually reduced.

However, people in the agricultural sector insisted on Monday that the adjustments “do not go far enough” and urged the government to “completely reverse the plans”.

“We simply cannot continue like this. The agricultural sector is going to collapse,” said a 34-year-old farmer.

The same farmer says he was furious when he heard about the cuts, especially because households had been suffering from high inflation for months.

“They have to think about the consequences of this. The price of food will rise. Everything is going to become more expensive,” he said.

The streets of major cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Bremen were blocked with at least 2,000 tractors each.

Outside the cities, protesters targeted driveways and blocked traffic in a “coordinated nationwide show of discontent”.

Police reported roadblocks and major disruptions due to slow-moving tractor convoys from the early hours of the morning across Germany. Authorities in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern said all of its Autobahn ramps were also blocked.

The protest also caused disruptions at Germany’s borders with France, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Politicians condemned the protests because of the underlying threat of violence.

More protests

However, the German government will have to brace itself for more protests by disgruntled workers.

Railway workers begin a three-day strike on Wednesday, with unions demanding a pay rise to compensate for months of high inflation.

Workers in sectors across Germany, from metallurgy and transport to education, have also protested in recent weeks.

However, negotiations on wage increases have not yielded success as Europe’s largest economy struggles with weak growth.