At the beginning of the week of action by German farmers against the planned subsidy cuts, the President of the German Farmers' Association, Joachim Rukwied, called for leniency for possible disruptions. “We want to carry out our protest peacefully and using democratic means,” Rukwied told the star.
The state and district associations in all federal states have registered over 100 campaigns. “If we travel with tractors, there will inevitably be traffic disruptions,” said Rukwied: “We ask the population for their understanding. We don’t want to lose the great support and solidarity that we receive from large parts of society.”
Rukwied rejected allegations that some of the planned farmer protests were initiated by right-wing extremist forces: “Our demonstrations have been registered and we are making use of our fundamental right to convey to society and politicians that Germany needs competitive agriculture. This is the only way to ensure the supply of high-quality, local food."
On Thursday evening, an incident in Schleswig-Holstein sparked massive nationwide criticism. A group of farmers blocked the arrival of a ferry from the Hallig Hooge carrying Federal Agriculture Minister Robert Habeck (Greens).
An offer to talk was rejected by the demonstrators. In the end, a few demonstrators tried to storm the ferry and had to be pushed back by the police with pepper spray. The ferry left again without Habeck being able to get out. It wasn't until late at night that he finally came ashore.
Research by “Spiegel” and the news portal “t-online” showed that the call for the unregistered demonstration was partly spread on social channels by right-wing extremist “Reichsbürger”. There is also a call for people to take part in the upcoming week of action.
The farmers' association had distanced itself from the incident at the ferry pier. "That's not possible, it's a border crossing, a violation of privacy," DBV General Secretary Bernhard Krüsken told WDR on Friday. “Violence and coercion have no place in our actions.”
Blockades of this kind are a no-go," explained DBV President Joachim Rukwied. "We are an association that upholds democratic practices."
The farmers' association wants to stick to the action week - as well as its demand for a complete withdrawal of the subsidy cuts. The traffic light government had initially announced that it would cancel both the vehicle tax exemption for agriculture and the tax relief for agricultural diesel.
On Thursday, a government spokesman announced a partial withdrawal of the plans. Agricultural machinery should remain exempt from vehicle tax. The tax relief for agricultural diesel is now to be gradually phased out.
But that's not enough for the farmers' association. “The proposals would result in even more businesses giving up,” Rukwied told the star. The week of action should make it clear that “we will not accept the planned tax increases for agriculture.” Rukwied reiterated: “These have to be taken off the table. We’re sticking with it.”