Accompanied by whistles and also applause, Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) defended his agricultural policy at a farmers' rally in Ellwangen, Baden-Württemberg. At the traditional meeting, the Green politician claimed that the federal government's original cuts plans had been weakened. “The vehicle tax exemption remains, the green sticker stays with you, at least we have already achieved that,” said Özdemir. He loudly felt the dissatisfaction of the farmers in the Ostalb district.
"It cannot be the case that a profession is put under undue strain, especially without it being heard first," said Özdemir, referring to the federal government's budget consolidation, which temporarily abolishes the vehicle tax exemption for agricultural and forestry machinery had. That's why he said: "I can't support these decisions," said Özdemir. Speakers in and outside the town hall emphasized that trust in politics had been lost.
With regard to the subsidy cuts for agriculture, which have now been partially withdrawn by the federal government, Özdemir emphasized that he had campaigned for a withdrawal immediately after the decisions of the traffic light leaders became known. At the same time, he also demanded “fairness” from the protesting farmers.
The protests of the farmers, who are currently venting their dissatisfaction as part of a nationwide protest week with tractor convoys and blockades, are still sparked by the fact that subsidies for agricultural diesel are to be gradually eliminated. What was achieved here, however, was that the cuts would only come in “three stages,” said Özdemir. That's "nothing," said the Green politician from Baden-Württemberg in the Ellwangen town hall, drowned out by individual boos. He had “already pushed through something,” he added.
Özdemir received applause for his call for greater appreciation and mutual understanding in the debate. In the past, before he took office as Federal Minister of Agriculture, a policy had been made "that meant cheap for export - and not quality," he said. In addition, the “four big ones” divided the food retail business among themselves.
However, he was not included as a specialist minister. “If this had been the case, the decisions would not have been made,” said Özdemir. In the future, something like this should not be decided at the green table. The professional association must also be involved. “Let’s tackle this together,” he said. "This is the only way we will be successful."
Regarding the agricultural policy he is aiming for, Özdemir emphasized that there must be an appropriate price for “good products”. If there are political requirements for agriculture - such as more animal welfare or more biodiversity - then politicians must also provide the financial resources for this, he said. In addition, the position of farmers in the value chain must be strengthened. Özdemir also brought up the development of alternatives to agricultural diesel.
As part of savings in the 2024 federal budget, the preferential treatment for agricultural diesel is to be gradually abolished. So far, companies have been able to get a partial refund of the energy tax - with a reimbursement of 21.48 cents per liter. Originally, the traffic light coalition wanted to cancel the aid completely immediately. Now there will be a phase-out over three years.
Özdemir took part in a citizens' rally in the town hall in Ellwangen at the end of the traditional cold market. The Minister of Agriculture first spoke to more than 700 participants in a farmers' rally in the town hall. Then the crowd outside City Hall asked him to answer questions outside. Özdemir complied. His words were always accompanied by boos and whistles. According to the police, there were around 600 tractors as well as 2,500 farmers and interested parties on the street along the town hall.