The traffic light dispute over the planned cuts in the budget continues: The FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag announced on Sunday a veto against the plans of the traffic light leaders to abolish tax breaks for farmers. “The FDP parliamentary group does not consider the heavy burden on agricultural businesses to be acceptable,” said FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr to the German Press Agency in Berlin. He added: "Too often people talk about supposedly climate-damaging subsidies without looking at the social and economic consequences of abolishing them."
“Above all, our farmers need fair competitive conditions compared to other European countries,” demanded Dürr. “That is exactly what would be at risk if the plans were implemented.” Finance Minister Christian Lindner has “already promised that he can present alternatives to the government if the coalition partners agree.” The FDP leader told the Germany editorial network: "To be clear, I am not a fan of the burden on agricultural businesses." That's why we will have to talk to each other in the government and coalition. “I am open to alternatives,” he emphasized.
The German Farmers' Association has called for a rally in Berlin this Monday under the motto "Too much is too much". The aim is to show outrage over the end to regulations on agricultural diesel and vehicle tax exemptions for agriculture and forestry. Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) is also expected to speak. Sharp criticism of the planned cuts also came from the Union.
Habeck defends decision on agricultural diesel
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) defended the traffic light plans in the agricultural sector. At the same time, he defended his party colleague Özdemir. “The Federal Chancellor, the Finance Minister and I had to make the decision on agricultural diesel subsidies in the spirit of an overall solution,” Habeck told the dpa. "It wasn't easy and I also know about the hardships. The Minister of Agriculture warned against canceling the agricultural diesel subsidy. Cem Özdemir knows the situation of the farmers and the burden and has made that very clear."
Habeck said he also discussed these arguments with his government partners. "But as a result of the Federal Constitutional Court's ruling, we have to make do with less money and limit spending. And the three of us made this decision as part of the overall package."
CDU leader Friedrich Merz wrote in an email to his supporters that on average, the traffic light plans would "burden every agricultural business with an additional 4,000 euros in taxes per year." The federal government does not want to save money, but is primarily looking for new sources of income. The FDP “promised not to increase taxes”. The Union will “work very hard to ensure that these tax increases do not come,” announced the Union parliamentary group leader.
Breher: “This decision does not serve the climate”
The deputy CDU chairwoman and member of the Bundestag Silvia Breher told the German Press Agency that the green industry would be burdened with an additional burden of almost one billion euros per year. “This decision does not serve the climate because alternatives are not available to farmers and foresters.” The head of the SME and Economic Union, Gitta Connemann, warned that no field could be cultivated without diesel: "A cost explosion is inevitable."
On Wednesday, after long negotiations with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP), Habeck agreed on how billions in holes in the federal budget for 2024 and in the climate and transformation fund should be plugged following a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court. This also includes the cutback plans in the agricultural sector.