Farmers clog Berlin with tractors in protest at cuts

Farmers clog Berlin with tractors in protest at cuts

The protesters blocked one of the main roads through central Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate, dumping manure on the road
The protesters blocked one of the main roads through central Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate, dumping manure on the road. Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP
Source: AFP

Thousands of farmers descended on central Berlin with their tractors on Monday to protest against planned cuts to agricultural subsidies.

Police said 6,600 people had joined the demonstration, while the German Farmers' Association (DBV) put the number at between 8,000 and 10,000.

Perks for farmers including tax breaks on diesel used by agricultural heavy vehicles are set to be scrapped under measures announced last week after a shock court ruling upended the government's spending plans.

Joachim Rukwied, president of the DBV, said the cuts would cost farmers more than one billion euros ($1.1 billion) per year.

"This is a declaration of war and we are taking up the fight," he said.

The protesters blocked one of the main roads through central Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate, dumping manure on the road.

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They also loudly booed and rattled cowbells at Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir, with some calling for new elections.

In an interview with the ARD broadcaster, the minister admitted the planned cuts would "overburden the sector".

He told the protesters he was "fighting in the cabinet to ensure that this does not happen in such a harsh way".

Germany's highest court decided last month that the government had broken a constitutional debt rule when it transferred 60 billion euros earmarked for pandemic support to a climate fund.

The bombshell ruling blew a huge hole in spending plans and plunged Chancellor Olaf Scholz's three-way coalition into turmoil.

After adopting an emergency budget for 2023, Scholz and his junior coalition partners battled for weeks before finally finding an agreement for 2024 last week.

Source: AFP

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