German farmers have continued their December protests with a January uprising that matches the massive tractor convoys seen in other European countries over the past two years.
Hundreds of tractors lined highways on Tuesday in protest of the left-wing coalition government’s recent announcement that they were cutting diesel subsidies and tax breaks for agricultural vehicles.
Germany’s coalition government, made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens, made the announcement in mid-December as part of their austerity measures to help fill an $18.5 billion hole in their 2024 budget.
The move will save the country about 900 million euros (nearly $1 billion USD) annually.
The controversial decision has caused a rift between the coalition government, with the Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir siding with the farmers, saying they have “no alternative.”
“I’m not shutting myself off from us having to save, but it must be done in a way that we take people along with us — and farmers are the ones who supply us with food,” he said.
“These cuts … overburden the sector,” Özdemir added.
Farmer protests are expected to continue
The protests are expected to continue as farmers look to continue pressuring the government to reverse their decision.
“January 8th we will be present everywhere in a way that the country has never experienced before. We will not accept this,” said Germany’s DBV farmers lobby President Joachim Rukwied.
Many family-run farm owners have said the cuts would force them out of business.
“What are we supposed to do? The land is there. It has to be harvested and if it turns into a jungle, no one gains anything,” said Erwin Decker, a wine farmer in Southwest Germany.
Last year, more than 10,000 Dutch farmers and freedom protesters showed up to The Hague after the government announced it would force at least 3000 farmers to sell their land in order to comply with the EU’s climate agenda and emissions reduction targets.