Domestic Affairs

German farmers kick off protests against subsidy cuts in Germany

by teleSUR

On Monday, German farmers kick off a week of mobilizations that includes highway blockades to protest against the subsidy cuts by the coalition government.

“Things cannot go on like this,” said a retiree, emphasizing that “the people” should not tolerate unprepared individuals making harmful decisions for agriculture and destroying the country.

Columns of tractors and trucks converged in the centers of cities such as Berlin, Cologne, or Hamburg, while roadblocks and slow-moving vehicle convoys disrupted traffic in various parts of the country.

In Emden, tractors paralyzed a Volkswagen factory, while in Thülsfelde, a protester was seriously injured by a car that hit him while trying to bypass a picket.

“They are going to take away the future capacity of agriculture,” the German Farmers’ Association (DBV) President Joachim Rukwied said, urging the government to “return to reason” and revoke the “disproportionate burden” imposed on farmers.

Despite concessions from the administration of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, such as maintaining the subsidy for agricultural vehicle circulation tax and only gradually phasing out the agricultural diesel subsidy, farmers argue that it is not enough.

Farmers maintain that in the current situation of falling agricultural product prices, removing the subsidy of 21.48 cents per liter of diesel will result in a one-third reduction in their income.

However, the government aims to save €920 million with this step, as part of a package of cuts negotiated after a Constitutional Court ruling at the end of last year required a review of a significant portion of the 2024 budget.

The farmers’ protests are channeling the dissatisfaction of the population with the coalition government, popularly known as “the traffic light” due to the colors of social democrats, greens, and liberals.

According to a public television survey released last Sunday, 82 percent of citizens are little or not at all satisfied with the government’s performance, marking the worst rating for a German government in 13 years.

The popularity of the social democrat Chancellor Scholz has also declined over the past year and a half. Currently, only 20 percent approve of his policies.

On the contrary, if elections were held now, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) would have become the second-largest political force with 21 percent of the votes, behind only the Christian Democrats, leading with 32 percent.

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