Bharat Express

German farmers drive thousands of tractors into Berlin in a protest against fuel subsidy cuts

Germany against the plan to scrap tax breaks on diesel has escalated, with thousands of tractors converging on Berlin

The protest by farmers in Germany against the plan to scrap tax breaks on diesel has escalated, with thousands of tractors converging on Berlin. The farmers are discontented with the government’s decision to cut tax breaks on the diesel they use. This move is part of a broader demonstration against Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government, tapping into a general sense of dissatisfaction.

The farmers have taken various actions over the past week, including blocking highway entrances and slowing down traffic across the country. Their objective is to persuade the government to completely abandon the proposed tax cuts. Despite the government’s concessions on January 4, where it watered down the original plan by retaining the car tax exemption for farming vehicles and staggering the diesel tax break cuts over three years, the farmers remain unsatisfied.

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The chairman of the German Farmers’ Association, Joachim Rukwied, emphasized that the government should take back the proposed tax increases for the protests to subside. The demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate aimed to send a message to politicians that the farmers feel they are being burdened excessively.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner faced opposition from the protesting farmers, with boos, whistles, and chants of “Get lost.” He acknowledged that the original proposal was too much and too fast, defending the legitimacy and peaceful nature of the protests. Lindner assured that farming shouldn’t face special sacrifices but should make a fair contribution to Germany’s financial stability. He suggested that the delay in implementing tax breaks could provide time to address bureaucratic issues for farmers and enhance their productivity.

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The decision to cut tax breaks was driven by the need to fill a significant gap in the 2024 budget. The protests come at a time of general discontent with Chancellor Scholz’s center-left government, known for public disputes and prolonged discussions over decisions.

Chancellor Scholz acknowledged the concerns expressed by the farmers in a video message, recognizing broader issues that unsettle people beyond just farming subsidies. Polls indicate that a majority sympathizes with the farmers’ protests, and the road transport association in Germany joined the demonstration.

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Farmers argue that their frustration goes beyond the current plans, citing increasing requirements, tighter rules, and restrictions imposed on them in recent years. They also express concerns about being overwhelmed by food imports produced below their standards.

Lindner emphasized that agriculture is not a sector like any other and justified state support, stating that it receives 9 billion euros (nearly USD 9.9 billion) from the government and the European Union annually. The situation reflects a complex interplay of economic, political, and social factors, with farmers seeking fair treatment and recognition of their contributions to the country.