Action week: Farmers take their frustration to the streets

Starting Monday, farmers in Germany will make their frustration with government policy noticeable across the country, especially with traffic disruptions.

Action week: Farmers take their frustration to the streets

Starting Monday, farmers in Germany will make their frustration with government policy noticeable across the country, especially with traffic disruptions. Commuters therefore have to prepare for regional disruptions in road traffic.

The week of action against planned subsidy cuts will primarily include blockades of motorway entrances, rally trips to larger cities and slow-moving convoys, as the state farmers' associations announced. The actual effects are likely to vary greatly from region to region. The farmers' association is supported by the freight forwarders' association BGL during the action week.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the police and numerous municipalities are expecting significant traffic disruptions; this could become one of the regional focal points of the protests. 900 tractors are expected in Erfurt for a central protest by Thuringian farmers. The city of Hamburg warned in advance of traffic chaos because farmers from Schleswig-Holstein wanted to drive to a rally in the city from several directions.

The farmers of Lower Saxony want to set off on a rally to Bremen. In Berlin, the street between Großer Stern and Brandenburg Gate is closed all day due to a registered demonstration. Rallies have also been announced for Monday in Munich and Ravensburg.

After the start on Monday, the intensity of the protests is likely to decrease in most regions. The week of action then culminates with a protest in Berlin on January 15th, for which, according to the police, 10,000 participants were registered. Thousands of tractors are also expected in the capital.

Farmers want to receive the agricultural diesel subsidy

With these actions, the farmers' association wants to ensure that the federal government completely reverses planned cuts in subsidies. The traffic light coalition of the SPD, Greens and FDP had announced that they did not want to implement some of the planned cuts. But that's not enough for the farmers' association. Specifically, it is about subsidies for agricultural diesel, which according to the current government plans are to be gradually abolished. The originally planned abolition of the vehicle tax exemption for agriculture and forestry is no longer an issue.

The acting chairwoman of the Conference of Agriculture Ministers welcomed this after a meeting with her colleagues from the federal states and the Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens). “This is also an important signal to rural areas, which only recently had to cope with cuts when funding was cut,” said Susanna Karawanskij (Left).

However, she criticized the fact that the now planned gradual abolition of agricultural diesel compensation would still affect the profession, especially in view of competition in the EU. The Conference of Agriculture Ministers therefore expects the Federal Ministry to make more use of alternative biodiesel. “If we unilaterally stop the agricultural diesel subsidy in Germany, we would put our local agricultural businesses at a major competitive disadvantage if the subsidy is maintained in the other EU countries,” said Karawanskij.

The cutter and coastal fishermen have declared their solidarity with the farmers and freight forwarders in their protest against the federal government's austerity plans. At the local level, farmers would be supported in planning their protest actions in the coming week, the industry association said.

Interior Ministry warns of infiltration by right-wing extremists

The preparations for the week of action have been accompanied in recent days, especially on social networks, by calls for a general strike, which is virtually impossible in Germany from a purely legal perspective. On Thursday, farmers prevented Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck from leaving a ferry on the North Sea coast. Habeck then expressed concern about the mood in Germany.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior has now warned against attempts by extreme forces to abuse the farmers' protests. A spokesman for Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) said that it can be assumed that actors from the right-wing extremist spectrum as well as those who want to delegitimize the state will try to exploit events for their own interests during the week of protests. “The aim here is to ensure that such attempts at instrumentalisation by extremists are not caught by clearly distancing the initiators.”

A few days ago, the farmers' association distanced itself from such actors via Instagram. "The German Farmers' Association strongly distances itself from idiots with fantasies of subversion, radicals and other extreme fringe groups who want to hijack our week of action and hijack our protest for their concerns," it said. The Federal Association of Road Haulage Logistics and Disposal (BGL), which wants to take part in the week of action, also distanced itself from calls for a general strike.